The Republic of Korea has only been in existence since the end of World War II, but in that short period of time, the country has found itself to be at the forefront of many technological advancements. Despite being a leader in tech, the country still has a series of archaic laws that draw upon its long history before the war. This includes views on gambling, which are considered by many to be misplaced and muddled. We are going to try to clear things up from a Korean online gambler’s perspective – what is allowed, what you will find when looking for a place to play and the risks of doing so today.
Gambling Regulations in South Korea
To say that gambling laws in the Republic of Korea are confusing is a gross understatement. For those of us who live outside the country, we aren’t entirely sure what the government is thinking with some of these rules, except that perhaps it is trying to protect its citizens from problem gambling on slot machines.
Ok, let’s have a look at the different rules in place. First of all, not all forms of gambling are illegal for Koreans. They can play the lottery without issue, as well as a sports lottery called Toto, which actually has an online option (more on this in a minute). Also, betting on racing (horse, boats, etc.) are allowed in the country. So, we know that gambling is part of the culture, but this is about where the government draws a line in the sand.
When it comes to casino gambling, this is where things start to get a little cloudy. There are many land-based casinos in the country offering table games and slot machines. However, these casinos are only open to foreigners. Koreans are forbidding from entering these facilities are can be severely punished for doing so. There is one exception to this rule, a casino in a remote area of the country, but for the most part, the locals are not allowed to enter any gambling establishment.
Here is where it gets even crazier. Korean citizens are prohibited from casino gambling anywhere. Yes, you read that right – Koreans are told that if they gamble for real money at a casino outside the country, they can be charged under the current set of laws. These charges aren’t slapped on the wrist – offenders could face up to 3 years in jail for breaking this law. We aren’t sure why this matters so much to the country – perhaps it doesn’t want to be embarrassed by its citizens on a global platform. Regardless, this is one of the craziest laws about gambling we have ever come across.
Online gambling is a little more clear-cut in Korea. Operating a real money online gambling site that accepts Korean players is explicitly illegal. Now, there is nothing currently stopping a player from accessing a site, which is surprising given the country’s stance on land-based casino play. There has been a recent crackdown on Koreans who leave the country to set up gaming sites, with sweeps in Thailand and other Asian countries resulting in many arrests. The country also claims that their neighbor to the North is setting up these illegal casinos to bankrupt South Korean citizens. All of this adds up to a
Online Casino Software Available to Koreans
Since it appears the biggest concern in the Korean online gambling space is when Koreans themselves set up online gambling sites offshore, many top software suppliers continue to allow their licensees to accept real money play from the country. Until there are some significant repercussions for being a vendor who allows this behavior, online casino players in Korea can expect to find games from the following suppliers when they go online in search of a site:
- Real Time Gaming
- Pari Play
- Evolution Gaming
These providers represent over a thousand different titles including some of the most popular online slots in the world. If you come across any of these companies, you should feel comfortable that these games have all been audited for integrity and have passed with flying colors.
Best Online Casinos for Koreans
Despite a major crackdown on these sites that operate openly to Korean players, the government has not taken any major steps to control the access of its citizens. There has been no attempt to ask ISPs to block offending sites, so for the time being it is the owners of the online casino operator to decide if it will accept Korean players. The overwhelming majority of sites continue to accept players from that country.
When we research the best sites for Korean players, we start with sites that either has translated their website or offer Korean language customer support. From there, we focus on the games being offered and the bonuses players can earn while playing with the casino. When we finish a review, we give it a rating (sometimes internally) and the list below represents some of the top-rated casinos our team has seen that are open to the Korean market.