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South Korea – Online Casinos & Gambling Regulations
Gambling in South Korea is a tricky subject. The majority of gambling, as you know, is illegal, and you can face some rather hefty fines and even imprisonment for breaking the law. The reason it’s complicated is because the laws, at first glance, may seem to work against each other. But there’s a distinct difference between online and offline gambling that we’ll take a closer look at in this article.There are a few legal ways of gambling for South Korean residents. One is land-based casino gambling at the Kangwon Land, the only land-based casino where Koreans are allowed to play. And there are two others: the state-owned lottery and sports betting, known as Toto (Pari-Mutuel betting) and Proto (fixed-odds betting).
To find a South Korean online casino, you’ll have to look outside the country’s borders. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online casinos on the market today, and it may not always be easy to know what to look for in a casino.
We’ve compiled a list of things which, depending on your answers, will give you a good picture of what a casino will be able to offer you.
- Do they accept players from South Korea?
- Can you play using Korean as a language?
- Which license are they operating under?
- Do they offer the types of games you want? (Casino, live casino, sports?)
- Can you participate in promotions or VIP-programs?
- Is their customer support available at convenient times?
To help you find answers to these questions, we’ve already answered them in our GoodLuckMate casino reviews. Each review gives you all the information necessary to find out about the casino you’re looking into.
Ok, so, here’s the deal. Local online casinos are illegal in Korea. This means that if you find an online casino site that’s operating from Korea, and you play there, you’ll be breaking the law.
The fines? As per Article 246 of the Criminal Act, first-time offenders risk an RKW 5 million fine, with “habitual” offenders risking up to 20 million RKW penalties and up to 3 years in prison. Furthermore, it’s also illegal for Koreans to gamble when they’re outside of the country, as per the “Habitual Overseas Gambler” law.
That said, online casinos that are located outside of Korea, such as European casinos, are not bound by Korean law. And currently, no laws are prohibiting Korean players from accessing and using foreign gambling sites from Korea.
It is, however, illegal for foreign gambling companies to target Korean players, which means that the government works hard at restricting these sites from being accessible to players in Korea.
As mentioned, there are no localized online casinos since all of them are restricted. Are there foreign casinos offering their sites in Korean? Yes. There are several online casinos licensed and located outside of the republic that offers their websites in various languages, one of them being Korean.
Players usually access these foreign sites by using VPN-services that mask their actual location. Using a VPN when playing at an online casino is a breach of the casino Terms and Conditions, and this puts you at risk of losing any funds you win or getting your account permanently closed. We don’t recommend using services like these. It’s up to you if you want to do so anyway.
So, we’ve already established that there are no local online casinos in the country, but what about land-based casinos? The Republic of Korea has a total of 23 brick-and-mortar casinos spread out across the country, but only one of them allows Koreans!
Yes, this is one of the odd aspects of the country’s gambling laws: locals are only allowed to play at the Kangwon Land casino, while foreigners and tourists are free to play at any of the other 22.
Locals are, however, also able to play in the state-owned lottery and even bet on any of the allowed sports in Proto or Toto games. The allowed sports available are as follows:
- Olympics sports
- Horse racing
- Boat racing
- Bicycle racing
It is safe to say that the gambling industry in Korea is seen as destructive and harmful by the government. However, because more and more countries are moving towards becoming regulated, and there’s a lot of responsible gaming information and support for those who need it, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the gambling culture in South Korea.