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The South Korean Gambling Market

The South Korean Gambling Market

South Korea has a number of industries that are popular across the world with films like Parasite, TV shows like Squid Game, and K-pop groups including BTS, Blackpink, and Twice taking the world by storm.

South Korean footballers are similarly famous worldwide, with Son Heung-min being one of the biggest names in the English Premiership. The South Korean skincare industry is also widely regarded as one of the best for high-quality products.

Korean tourism is also on the rise, with millions of people from around the world travelling to sample the country’s diverse experiences, fascinating history, and incredible cuisine.

Visitors to the South Korean peninsula will also find that gambling is one of the country’s most popular pastimes. In this article, we will explore the popularity of different betting markets in South Korea, as well as investigate gambling laws and regulations there.

The Popularity of Gambling in South Korea

The South Korean gambling industry was more than 14.4 trillion KRW in 2021 with 122 businesses catering to over 3.7 million gamblers in the country.

This figure was projected to show a compound annual growth rate of 8.93 up to 2027, making it an extremely lucrative industry. 

Market research has found that more than a quarter of South Korea’s population have placed a bet on sports in the last year and over a fifth have taken part in lottery or games of chance.

South Korean Gambling Laws

Gambling laws can often be confusing, with some countries like the US giving individual states the autonomy to dictate their own legislation. South Korean gambling laws are relatively strict and cover gambling by citizens domestically and abroad. 

All betting in South Korea is governed by the National Gambling Control Commission, which ensures the 2006 Game Industry Act is adhered to. All lotteries and gambling are prohibited by the Korean Criminal Code unless it has the permission of the commission.

Land-Based Betting in South Korea

Koreans are prohibited from visiting all casinos in the country except the Kangwon Land Casino. Locals can gamble here because of the Assistance to Development of Abandoned Mines Act.

Casinos in South Korea permit gambling by foreigners visiting the country as a way for the country to capitalise on revenue. Casinos can only be granted a license if they are part of a conference facility, hotel, or passenger ship that meets pre-determined requirements.

In-person sports betting is overseen by the National Sports Promotion Act and is only permitted at facilities that the Korea Sports Foundation operates. Golf, basketball, and football are some of the sports that can be bet on.

Online Gambling Laws in South Korea

The prohibition of betting in South Korea typically depends on whether it is considered to be speculative gaming. The Game Industry Act defines speculative gaming as involving allotment or betting when the outcome is dictated by coincidence and results in monetary loss or gain.

The South Korean government does not permit online gambling operators in the country and strictly monitors activity. This leads people in the country to explore the best offshore betting options, which hold licences granted in other countries. According to New Korean Casinos, some casinos only accept cryptocurrency, while others accept fiat currency, meaning there are options to gamble with Won in Korea.

The Most Popular Betting Markets in South Korea

There are a number of betting markets that are popular across South Korea both in person and online, including sports betting and casino games.

Popular Sports for Betting on in South Korea

Baseball

Baseball is the most popular spectator sport in South Korea with the KBO League welcoming millions of fans every year and many more watching televised games.

Because of this, betting on baseball is big business, with a range of markets including team and individual player bets.

Football

Football is another extremely popular sport with the K League 1 and K League 2 enjoying popularity in the country. The success of South Korean players like Heung Min Son, Min Jae Kim, and Jang In Lee in some of Europe’s top leagues has helped with this, along with the national team progressing to the knockout stages of the World Cup in 2022.

Popular football betting markets include outright match betting, accumulator bets, and match stats and player betting. The first goalscorer market is particularly popular.

Golf

Golf is popular in South Korea thanks to more than 500 golf courses being meticulously cared for across the country. With so many golf players, it is inevitable that they will want to watch and bet on elite players.

Betting on major golf tournaments includes outright winners, round leaders, and even chasing big money by betting on someone getting a hole-in-one.

The most popular Korean golfers currently competing are Yang Yong-Eun, Pak Se-Ri, K.J. Choi, and Park Sung-Hyun.

Esports

Traditional sports fans might be surprised to learn about the popularity of Esports and its top players. However, with viewing figures reaching millions and prize money making it a highly competitive industry, more gamers are seeing this as a potential career rather than a hobby.

The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism launched the Korean Esports Association to regulate and promote events around the country. This has helped to ensure the integrity of competition and open up a popular betting market.

Popular Casino Games in South Korea

Slots

Slots are popular in person and online all around the world as they are a fun way to bet and can offer huge returns. Slot machines will typically have a theme, with some using famous franchise branding associated with new movies.

State-of-the-art technology provides users with a modern take on traditional fruit machines and offers a great user experience.

Poker

Reputable online Korean casinos will offer a range of poker-style games where players can build their own strategy and skills to play against real opponents or the computer.

Baccarat

Baccarat is huge in South Korea and its origins can be traced back to East Asia. Baccarat is a simple and quick game meaning players can enjoy numerous rounds without having a great understanding of card games.

Roulette

One of the most popular casino games in South Korea is roulette. Players can bet on black or red, or choose a specific number before the dealer spins the wheel. This game of chance is an exciting way for gamblers to enjoy fast-paced gaming.


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