Is Gambling in South Korea Illegal?


Gambling is undoubtedly one of the most popular pastimes on the planet. However with its potentially addictive nature and also the social consequences that this may entail it has been deemed illegal in many countries around the world. As with the majority of Asia gambling in South Korea is, in principle, illegal. It states in the Criminal Act, Article 246 that anyone who gambles or bets for the purpose of gaining property shall be punished by a fine of up to 5 million Won. Article 247 prohibits the opening of the place for the use of gambling for a profit and sets a punishment of imprisonment without greater than 3 years or a fine of up to 20 million Won.


This law is not a blanket exclusion of gambling and, in Korea you, you can still gamble under restricted circumstances – an example being for that promotion of tourism. We are seeing laws enacted allowing gambling in a few circumstances.

For instance:

a. Casinos

The laws vary for foreigners and Korean citizens. Because it stands at the moment the Special Act on the Assistance towards the Development of Abandoned Mine Areas permits the running of the only land based casino in Korea that Korean citizens may enter. It’s situated in Gangwon province, in an abandoned mining district, the remote countryside assisting to further restrict access for Koreans.

For non-Korean citizens the Tourism Promotion Act offers permission for hotels to function casinos that just foreign nationals can enter. Such casinos are presently running in Seoul, Incheon, Jeju Island and therefore are heavily supervised by the Secretary of state for Culture and Tourism.

b. Lotteries

There’s two lotteries available to Korean citizens the Lotto and the Toto ( a sports lottery). The whole process of and selling of tickets are regulated under the Lottery Fund Act.

c. Racing

Horse racing and betting at the venues is permitted under the Korean Horse Affairs Association Act and comes underneath the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Other race sports will also be legal and controlled, included in this are cycling and motor boat racing although these both come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

d. Online Gambling

This really is currently a gray area as Korea doesn’t have relevant laws for the more knowledge about online gambling. Arguments can be created for both sides – for instance, the monetary transactions is going to be taking place beyond Korean jurisdiction so can in no way be susceptible to Korean law, hence it’s very unlikely that the money will be seized by anyone. Nevertheless the consumer is still in Korea so may be subject to the nation’s laws that affect general gambling. The nation’s Police Agency has established the Criminal Activity Investigation Team to assist control any potentially unlawful online activities, including gambling. This certainly signifies that it would be ‘considered’ illegal; although at present no cases happen to be brought to test this.

e. Slot machines

They are all illegal outside of a casino.

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