Active players: 6.500.000
Currency: Korean Republic won (KRW)
Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, lottery, casino games
Designated authority: No designated authority
Operator types: Licensed casinos, lotteries, unlicensed online casinos and bookmakers
South Korea, officially the ‘Republic of Korea’, is an East Asian country neighboring North Korea, China and Japan. It has a rich history, with records of being inhabited since the 7th century BC. Sports play a big part in locals’ lives; with football, tae kwon do, baseball and racing sports topping their preferences. Footballer Heung-Min Son is probably the most popular local athlete.
As regards South Korea gambling; it is illegal for locals to enter all casinos but one. They are not even allowed to visit casinos when travelling abroad. They can only participate in specific forms of betting. These include state-run toto and proto sports betting; as well as horse, dog and boat racing. Lottery tickets are available everywhere too. It is also illegal for a company to provide online gambling services. So, apparently, no licensed local betting sites exist. However, the law is not harsh on players who bet online. That explains why several international bookies accept South Korean bettors.
Gambling in South Korea - 5 things to know
- The legal gambling age is 19
- Only specific forms of betting are legal and regulated
- Locals can only enter one casino, the Kangwon Land Casino
- Many betting shops operate in major cities, providing state-run forms of betting only
- There are also numerous dodgy online betting sites that players need to stay away from
Best betting sites in South Korea
These are the best South Korean sportsbooks, offering high odds and a wide range of betting markets on football and baseball matches.
The gambling law framework in South Korea
It has not been very long since sports betting in South Korea has been regulated. Up until 1997, only the lottery was available for local players. Since then, horse, boat and bicycle racing have been added to the betting options. Anyone can legally participate in these, and play in designated betting parlors and stands. The National sports promotion Act of 2017 is the latest piece of legislation towards gambling. As for casinos, they were made legal in 2000. The difference is that locals are not allowed to play in them. Only the Kangwon Land Casino is legally accepting South Korean players. All other casinos are for tourists only.
Moreover, the 'Habitual Overseas Gambler' law dictates that Korean citizens may not even visit casinos in other countries. Difficult to actually apply this law; but it sure does exist and there have been reports of prosecutions of Koreans found gambling in countries like Singapore or the Philippines. Anyone found guilty of habitual gambling could face up to 3 years in prison and/or a fine of $15,000-17,000.
The South Korea online gambling law leaves a small legal window for bettors; allowing gambling for “momentary pleasure”. However, the distinction has never been made absolutely clear, leaving players confused. Furthermore, the law states that online gambling companies are not allowed to operate or be formed in the country. Nonetheless, for online gambling, South Korea does not apply a harsh stance towards online bettors. That in turn, leaves a vast gray area in terms of their ability to legally access South Korean betting sites. No licensing system is obviously in place and there are no locally licensed betting sites.
Safe betting sites in South Korea
There have been many cases where companies have set up illegal betting sites in South Korea. The risk with such sites is two-fold. First of all, the local police have reportedly banned many of them. Surveillance is quite active, and the authorities are constantly trying to clamp down on illegal operators. So, if you place your bets and money there, it will be lost, and your personal details might come straight to the hands of the police.
Moreover, such illegal sites frequently just vanish; especially when players try to withdraw their funds after a winning bet. Distinguishing such sites is not always easy; since they are often imitating the ‘looks’ of international bookmakers. What you should do is stick to any of the renowned international bookies that we mention in our analysis. These are all reliable bookmakers, licensed by the most legitimate authorities in the world; offering a safe online betting experience. Plus, they are based outside of South Korea; so, technically they are legal. Still, always keep in mind that if you are ever to be questioned about your gambling; try as much as possible to prove that you are not a habitual gambler.
Sports betting in Korea
Sports betting is legal, when practiced on the state’s land-based bookies. Still, only two forms of it are available. These are namely toto and proto. Toto South Korea is a pari-mutuel betting type. All the money players wager, adds up. Then, 50% of it returns to the state for operation costs and taxes, while the rest is shared by players who potentially get all their predictions correct. Proto South Korea is about fixed odds betting. Here the odds for each event are in decimal format. Simply put, if you bet 10 units on an event with odds of 2.00 and you win, you will get 20 units back.
Basketball, baseball South Korea and football betting are all available on the legal local bookmakers. Baseball’s KBO league still attracts much of locals’ betting flow. A tradition in racing also leads many locals to bet on dog, horse and motorboat races. However, remember that when betting online; more sports are available. You can actually bet on all your favorite teams and sports; with a great variety of extra bets too. For instance, K League 1 South Korea football is available at many bookmakers that you will find listed here.
Bookmakers accepting Korean Republic Won (KRW)
Before proceeding with info around online deposits and withdrawals; here is the list of all the international betting sites that accept Korean players and allow them to bet using the local currency.
How to deposit at online bookies
Online betting in South Korea is only typically illegal. You should however avoid transferring funds directly from a bank account or via credit/debit cards to your online betting account. This is due to the fact that you could probably be under scrutiny; having to prove that you are not a habitual gambler. Accordingly, it is advisable to use a VPN software to hide your original IP address.
E-wallets are very popular among local bettors. Skrill, Neteller and Sticpay all offer their services in South Korea. Ecopayz is also available. What e-wallets do, is actually allowing you to bet under the radar. At the same time, players may transfer money to and from their gambling accounts at no time.
The future of online gambling in South Korea
The existing Korean online gambling legislation is rather strict. It is also not exhaustive. For example, online betting is supposedly illegal. At the same time there are no clear provisions on what bettors practically can or cannot bet on. The question that lies here is whether the state will continue to hold a passive stance towards online gambling.
One direction could be regulating it; if it sees the opportunity of taxation as being vital for the economy. On the other hand, a traditional view of gambling as something malicious for its people; does not leave much room for optimism. So, it remains to see what South Korea’s stance will be in the coming years.
The complete list of bookmakers in South Korea
Having analyzed the local gambling scene; we now list all the online bookies that accept South Korean players. Check them out and make your choice.
If you are a local, you may engage in sports betting at designated spots; yet, you may not enter any casinos but one (the Kangwon Land Casino). As for online gambling, the law suggests it is illegal, while at the same time being very lax towards players.
With numerous sports events covered through live streaming and a fully localized interface; 1xBet Korea is one of the safest online bookies welcoming Korean players. Don't miss out on their promotions and their wide range of special bets.
Winnings deriving from gambling activities taking place in South Korea are not taxed. Lottery winnings though constitute the only exception, since a tax applies on them. Apparently, when placing your bets online you get to keep what you win.
The ease of use and the speed of transactions that e-wallets like ecoPayz or Sticpay provide when betting online, makes them our top suggestion. They also add more security, allowing you to conceal the nature of your transactions; if ever asked to do so.
Players can legally bet on many sports, through the state-provided Toto and Proto games. Accessing online betting sites is considered illegal. In practice though, authorities mainly try to crack down on online operators rather than on players.
Bet365 Korea is one of the most reputable and safe bookmakers that gladly accept locals. It offers unparalleled coverage on all top football championships, as well one of the richest horse racing betting arrays.
The most important thing in terms of safety, is basically to avoid any dodgy bookmakers that you might come across. The easiest way to do so, is by sticking to any of the online bookies we list in our analysis. They are all 100% legit and vouch for a safe betting experience.