Gambling in South Korea is regulated and limited to a few forms. The primary legal forms of gambling in the country are horse racing, bicycle racing, boat racing, and lottery games. These activities are overseen and licensed by the government.
Casino gambling, however, is heavily restricted for locals in South Korea. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, only one casino, Kangwon Land Casino, is legally permitted to allow South Korean citizens to gamble. It is located in a remote area and is subject to strict regulations and limitations, including a cap on the number of visits and the amount of money that can be wagered.
Foreigners in South Korea, on the other hand, can access and gamble at several licensed casinos. These casinos are typically situated in major cities and tourist destinations like Seoul, Busan, and Incheon. They offer a range of games, including table games such as blackjack, poker, roulette, and slot machines.
It’s important to note that gambling outside of these legal avenues is prohibited and can lead to legal consequences. South Korea has strict anti-gambling laws, and engaging in illegal gambling activities can result in fines and even imprisonment.
As regulations and laws can change over time, I recommend checking the latest information from official sources or contacting the South Korean embassy or consulate to get the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding gambling in the country.
South Korea often makes the headlines solely for its rocky relationship with its northern neighbours, but it is in fact one of the most technologically advanced countries in East Asia – second only to Japan. Despite this, online gambling sites based within South Korea are illegal and heavily targeted by government crackdowns, leaving citizens to seek services from online operators licensed in other countries. In 2003, Shin Jung-hwan was fined 5 million won (about USD $4,600) for gambling. He was fined double that in 2005. Later he was caught on video tape gambling in the Philippines. That was enough to spark his arrest when he returned to Korea, for which in 2011 he was given an 8-month prison sentence.
IS GAMBLING LEGAL IN SOUTH KOREA?
Yes, gambling in South Korea is legal. Simple question, simple answer.The most important fact you must know upfront is that Korea takes a very unfavorable view of gambling. This is most easily seen by the fact that Korea differentiates between its citizens and foreigners when it comes to gambling or online gambling.
CAN KOREANS GAMBLE?
How so? Koreans cannot gamble at casinos — with one exception I’ll mention later. Do not underestimate this because this shapes the entire gambling culture here. South Korean citizens cannot even gamble at casinos even when traveling abroad. This jaw-dropping overreach is not limited only to gambling either. For example, South Koreans also cannot do any drugs such as marijuana when traveling even if it is legal in that country. The punishments are severe as well. South Koreans face up to 3 years in prison if caught at a casino abroad. Seoul has even come to host premier events such as the Asian Poker Tour, which is often hosted at a major casino in Seoul (see my casino reviews). Something not found elsewhere when looking at Gambling Laws by Country, is this law applies to citizens even when they are abroad. It is a crime for Koreans to play casino in Macau, Las Vegas or anywhere else that is outside our borders. This is not simply a law that is only on the books and then never enforced. Shin Jung-hwan is the former singer of the group Rula and made the news over this.