[EDITORIALS]There’s no free lunchAs suspicions and accusations snowball around Sea Story, a gambling arcade game business, Reverend Song Wol-joo, the former President Emeritus of the Korean Buddhist Jogye order, and 125 other leading members of our society declared a “war against gambling.”
They condemned the government, saying “Korea has become a gambling republic since this administration took office,” at a press conference yesterday. They also argued that the Sea Story case is only the tip of the iceberg and that gambling industries, such as horse racing, bicycle racing, boat racing, casinos and lotteries have gone beyond healthy entertainment and are a bad influence on society.
The primary responsibility for Korea turning into a gambling republic lies with the government. Lifting existing regulations, the government actually promoted and recommended gambling so that all citizens can have easy access to gambling. Corruptive acts are being found to have been committed in this process. It is hard to tell where it started and where it ended because corruption is everywhere. But prosecutors are working on this case so the truth will soon be revealed.
However, there is another problem; how to stop the gambling fervor that is spreading across the nation at an alarming speed? Due to the traits of gambling, there are limits to what regulations and control can do. Gambling arcade games have now gone into residential areas and people can do gambling even at home, using the Internet. Thus, a new understanding and new measures are needed to bring an end to this trend.
Koreans have an unusual passion for gambling. This phenomenon became more serious after the 1998 financial crisis as a large number of people became jobless. As materialism and a morbid dream about getting a fortune at one stroke also spread, gambling has become more popular than ever. According to a 2006 report released by an institute that conducts research on leisure industries, 6. 5 percent of adults above 18, or 2.46 million, are addicted to gambling. Some even estimate the number at 3 to 5 million. The report also states that 42 percent of those gambling addicts make less than 2 million won ($2,100) per month.
Amidst all of this, people have high expectations on this war against gambling. As the leaders pointed out, the government should prepare a system that controls all gambling businesses. Everybody should work to renew a social atmosphere that appreciates the value of labor. People should be reminded that there is no such thing as a free lunch.