In a country with some of the strictest and most unfair gambling laws in the world, law enforcement officials are finding that online gambling in South Korea may simply be too big a problem for them to solve. The issue goes well beyond typical Internet casinos and online poker sites in South Korea, as the culture of youth computer gaming is perhaps the strongest in the world and money regularly changes hands among minors in this way.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s division called the Games Rating Board reported this week that 113 Web-based computer games had been found to be operating in the country, a more than 400% increase year-on-year. The Korean government has a “three strikes” rule in effect for licensors of websites found to be supplying illegal online gambling in Korea, and with a third violation, the business license is revoked. Twenty such licenses were revoked in the first six months of 2010, up from zero the previous year.
Korea reworked its laws to provide for online gambling in the early 2000s and a well publicized crackdown in 2006-07 stemmed the tide of Internet gambling somewhat, but estimates say the present market has returned to the pre-enforcement level.
Internet gambling is essentially illegal in Korea, though law enforcement is hardly effective at home and not at all in stopping foreign-based websites from providing online casinos in South Korea. Land-based gambling is seriously regulated, with only horse racing, lotteries and one casino legal – though many casinos operate in Korea, these only accept foreign players.