BANGKOK - The Thai government is publishing a new series of parenting brochures that instructs families how to keep their children from gambling on soccer matches, after kids as young as 7 were found betting on the World Cup.

"The Guide to Watching Football With Your Children and Loved Ones," will be the first in a three-part series to be distributed at schools nationwide in October, Thanakorn Komkris, a co-ordinator at the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, said Monday.

The agency, which is under the Prime Minister's Office, is sponsoring the series that uses cartoon characters to convey that professional soccer can be a fun family event — and one that sometimes requires parent supervision.

"Now that the major football leagues in Thailand and abroad have started, more gambling is expected. This is worrying. We don't want to see more young gamblers," he said.

The new guide will be aimed at children of primary school age and teens and will seek to inform them of the dangers of gambling, while trying to motivate youths with "inspiring stories from world-class football players," Thanakorn said.

"We want them to see the game as a sport that is good for the body and mind, not just entertainment," he said, adding that the series will also include information for parents and encourage them to make it a family activity. "Watching football together can help foster bonds within a family."

Gambling is illegal in Thailand, technically, but it remains a national pastime. Betting is common at sports events, at underground casinos or along the Cambodia border where casinos have flourished in recent years to cater to Thai customers.

"During the World Cup, police found children as young as 7 gambling," Thanakorn said. During the three-week sporting event, police arrested 1,700 illegal gamblers in Bangkok alone and confiscated 3.7 million baht (about $118,000).

A survey conducted by the foundation with Bangkok's Assumption University during the World Cup found 54 per cent of those surveyed gambled on match results. The survey polled 2,541 people between the ages of 12 and 60.

"Thais are fundamentally attracted to gambling. Thais can find ways to gamble on almost anything," Thanakorn said. "We focus on football because it is such a popular and accessible sport. And it's often the entry-point to other kinds of gambling."