Gambling addiction on the rise among youth

Many students, young working professionals and businessmen are increasingly becoming addicted to online gambling and are putting large amounts of money at stake hoping to make a windfall, police said.

College students are signing up in large numbers on several cricket betting apps available online, and are transferring money using online payment interfaces. Bets are placed mainly on cricket and kabaddi matches. The youths, who believe they have a good chance of winning the bets due to their knowledge of the game, put a lot of money at stake and end up losing it all, said sources.

“Desperate to recoup their losses, they bet more money hoping to win it all. This cycle repeats itself a few times by which the youths are sunk into large debts. They then go into depression, and unable to figure a way out of this mess, end up killing themselves,” a police officer said requesting not to be named.

G. Ravi Teja, a cashier working for a nationalised bank at Nuzvid in Krishna district, was arrested for allegedly siphoning ₹1.50 crore from some inactive accounts and withdrawing the money to fund his addiction for gambling.

“The cashier had on some occasions placed bets of over ₹3 lakh in a single day and suffered heavy losses, which prompted him to find a way to siphon money from inactive accounts. However, his actions were detected by bank officials who lodged a complaint. He was later arrested and the case is now under investigation,” the police officer said.

In another case, Venkatesh (25), a native of Hanuman Junction, allegedly killed himself after he suffered huge losses while participating in online betting. He died at Tanduru in Telangana State.

K. Srihari (24), who owned a chicken shop at Eluru in West Godavari district, ended his life after he was unable to repay a loan he had taken to bet on a cricket match in July last year.

An engineering student named N. Lokesh Varma (20) consumed poison after he lost a lot of money betting on an India-Bangladesh cricket match a couple of years ago. He was a native of Kalidindi in Krishna district. Police registered a case against other punters in the case.

“Police are trying to keep surveillance on online transactions. However, organisers are running the illegal business through various apps. We request the parents to keep a tab on their children and monitor their movements and financial transactions, and particularly their friends’ circle,” a cybercrime official said.

Activists of various students unions staged protests demanding that the government take action to prevent online gambling and bettings and ban some social media groups to curb the menace.

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