Most Popular Forms of Gambling in South Korea

  • Lottery goes viral in South Korea
  • Koreans are subjected to numerous casino restrictions
  • Horse racing gains a traction in Korean gambling sector
  • Sports betting is still bettors’ first choice
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Image source: Pixabay

The establishment of Integrated Resorts and the number of gambling revenues make Asia the leading region in the industry. While some Asian countries have become popular gambling destinations, others are hesitant to fully exploit the market. Gambling in South Korea is a perfect case in a point. 

Equipped with the up-to-minute technologies and fastest internet connection in the world, gambling in South Korea should have been a flourishing sphere. Yet the government has a strict policy regarding the industry. You can hardly find legal online gambling sites in South Korea amidst the locals being banned from entering casinos. Nonetheless, the Koreans are no strangers to this type of entertainment. Here are the most popular forms of gambling in the land of the Morning Calm.

Nationwide lottery fever

The definition of gambling is a subject of controversy, but the lottery is widely perceived as a form of it. The lottery is legal in almost every country, commanding large popularity and South Korea is not an exception. There is an official body – Korean Lottery Commission – controlling the market.

As the only licensed operator in South Korea, Dong Hang Lottery offers Lotto, Pension Lottery, Instant Lottery, and Electronic Lottery. It uses blockchain technology for the electronic lottery system, to cater to the residents of remote places. The recent statistics reveal that Lotto 6/45 sells over 85 million tickets weekly.

The key factor is the national mentality. Koreans perceive the lottery, as a healthy hobby. According to multiple kinds of research, 70% of adults have purchased a lottery ticket at least once in their lifetime. While electronic lottery is popular among citizens, online bingo sites in South Korea are illegal. There’s no specific norm regulating internet sources, but online gambling is generally illegal.

No specific operators offer online bingo services in South Korea, so most of the platforms are internationally based. So far, Unibet Bingo is the largest and most popular bingo site catering to Korean gamblers.

Limited casino gambling

South Korea is not a popular tourist destination as other Asian countries but it has a lot to offer to visitors. Gambling is one of the affairs that attracts scores of tourists to the region. You could even say gambling in South Korea is a separate sector of the economic growth engine. However, the strict policy concerning the industry is no secret.

There are 23 brick-and-mortar casinos scattered throughout South Korea but the citizens are practically prohibited to enter them. They can legally gamble only in Kangwon Land Casino which is the largest gambling venue in the country. It offers 20 hours of service and more than 160 tables.

Still, the locals face numerous limitations. They can visit the casino up to 15 days a month, but regular entries may end in a ban. Accumulated 30 days of visitations in two consecutive months will be regarded as a gambling addiction. Koreans also need to provide personal information for an entry. The admission fee amounts to KRW 40,000 ($36). Due to such restrictions, citizens often opt for online casino sites in South Korea, despite the prohibition of online gambling.

Koreans fancy horse racing

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Horse racing gains traction in the Korean gambling sector. Image source: Pxhere

An average gambling enthusiast probably won’t know that Koreans majorly enjoy horse racing. The elite sport entered this country in 1898 for only entertainment purposes. Currently, it’s popular among the locals as 25% of the population visits tracks across the country. The Korea Racing Authority even intends to grow beyond its borders and host International racing events.

The quality of the sport in South Korea fastly rises, so does the popularity of it as a form of gambling. Horse racing has been subject to betting since the 1920s. Legally it may only be conducted at racecourses. The foreigners may also wager on horse racing at the LetsRun CCC-branded off-track betting lounges. Holding the exclusive betting rights over three local racecourses, KRA aims to launch online horse race betting in the country. The company has not performed any legal actions on the matter yet.

Sports betting has the call

South Koreans are not averse to sports events and regularly arrange their schedules around the upcoming tournaments. They are also fond of placing bets on major competitions, like FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games. As of now, the local operators offer two types of live sports betting: Sports Toto and Sports Proto.

The first one proposes pari-mutuel betting on sports events like football, basketball, baseball, and traditional Korean wrestling. Football likely receives the biggest bets, since the market offers the most types of wagering options. On the other hand, Sports Proto presents fixed-odds betting. This type provides enhanced chances to bettors with the payout calculated by multiplying the stake.

Albeit legal, live sports betting markets in this region are poor with abysmal odds. Hence the popularity of online sportsbook sites in South Korea rises, despite the illegal status of online gambling. The officials usually overlook the activity, classifying it as recreational gambling.

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