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North Korea – Online Casinos & Gambling Regulations
The Korean peninsula was split into two as a result of the Korean war ending in 1953. The resulting countries of North Korea and South Korea have since been on vastly different paths over the past seven decades. While South Korea happily integrated itself into western capitalism, the North has remained an isolated communist dictatorship famous for its human rights violations and for being the most culturally isolated country in the world. This also extends to the online world, as internet access in the country is either reserved for the elite, highly monitored, or limited to a national intranet, comprised of a few governmental sites. It goes without saying then that online gambling in North Korea is practically non-existent.
The online casino giant Paddy Power did have a brief cameo in the planned meetups of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former basketball player Dennis Rodman back in 2014. The bizarre media event was hoped to make some diplomatic ground by at least opening the door, but since not much progress has been made and North Korea remains a heavily sanctioned country by most of the world. The sanctions combined with a highly monitored and restricted internet platform and an incredibly harsh penal system mean it actually highly inadvisable to even attempt to access an online casino while living in the country. In many cases, residents of a restricted country can still access online casinos without impunity and we, therefore, have some recommendations for staying safe, as listed below, although even attempting to search for casinos can have serious implications in North Korea.
- Is the casino licensed?
- How reputable is the licensing body?
- What do review sites say about the casino?
- Does the site allow you to deposit with your preferred payment methods?
- Will you be able to take part in any promotional campaigns?
While we can’t in good conscience recommend people to visit North Korea for its gambling or attempt to access any prohibited sites while there, we can recommend that you keep it locked in here at GoodLuckMate for useful casino reviews and up to date industry coverage.
Gambling in North Korea is highly restricted. There are only two gambling establishments in the country, which are reserved for Chinese tourists. Locals are prohibited from participating in any form of gambling right up until 2017. In a government bid to source additional funds from the country after another round of heavy international sanctions, horse race betting became a legal activity for locals aged 12 or older. This usually tiny step for most countries was actually a massive one for North Korea, as previously those caught gambling could face a punishment of up to three years of hard labor. Since then not much has been heard about North Korea’s stance on gambling, which is only compounded by the country’s isolationist stance towards the rest of the world.
There have been rumors about the country looking to attract more business and tourism from China via gambling and other industries, although there has been little substance coming from these rumors. The main problem is simply that very little information comes out of the country, making it hard to determine from the outside as to the exact laws or planned changes being made.
Usually, when a country is similarly restrictive in its stance on online gambling, we can generally recommend some workarounds based on more liberal and culturally similar markets. Therefore, South Korea might sound like a good alternative for finding a place to gamble at. South Korea’s gambling laws are pretty much just as strict, minus the extreme punishments. All forms of online gambling are illegal and land-based establishments are highly limited. It has been reported that South Korean nationals have even been prosecuted for playing while abroad. You should therefore not expect to find any good localization options at online casinos for the Korean peninsula as a whole.
The heavy sanctions on the country of North Korea, as well as its isolationist attitude, means that it is simply not viable for organizations to perform any kind of adoption of the country’s currency. The Korean People’s won (KPW) is a currency you would be hard-pressed to find any major organization supporting. It’s not only a matter of the choice of businesses but usually also an adherence to trade embargos imposed by the country they are operating in. As such, it would be better to look for alternatives like the commonly supported US dollar or even cryptocurrencies, which are becoming increasingly popular with players.
Residents of North Korea, unfortunately, inhabit what is often described as one of the most repressed countries on earth. This essentially means that the vast majority of the population do not have the luxury of even considering playing gambling online or offline. This is to the extent where a tablet was introduced to the nation’s people in 2014, named the Ullim. This device was found to be full of invasive software and hardware that monitors the user and can even save browser history and take screen-shots of opened apps by itself. This by itself should be enough to dissuade most from even contemplating accessing sites that are not government approved.
The two land-based casinos that do operate in the country are strictly reserved for tourists, primarily Chinese visitors, while nationals are prohibited from playing. The Imperial Hotel & Casino in Rason and the Pyongyang Casino are both squarely aimed at generating tourism revenues for the country and not for the entertainment of the locals. This has remained the status quo for quite a while and even though reports keep coming regarding the North Korean government’s enthusiasm to expand its economy through casinos, little evidence has been revealed towards any of this also being applicable for nationals.