South Korea online sports betting laws
The appetite for watching sport in South Korea is as keen as it is anywhere in the world. However, the ability to bet on it is extremely restricted for people in the country. It is possible, but complicated, to wager on unlicensed offshore sportsbooks – and plenty of Koreans do.
In South Korea, online sports betting is illegal. Placing or laying a wager is potentially punishable by law and there have been recent examples of bettors who have been prosecuted. The only legalized options for those who want a sports bet on Korean baseball or South Korea soccer, for instance, are restrictive and, to overseas eyes, unappealing.
Sports Toto: pari-mutuel or pool betting on baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball and golf.
Sports Proto: a form of fixed odds betting, but payouts are not generous and you can only bet on baseball and basketball.
This leads many people to be tempted by the lure of more choice and better odds at one of the many offshore sportsbooks operating from outside South Korea. The only other sport on which you are allowed to bet in South Korea is horse racing, either at the track or at off-course betting centers.
The country’s criminal code says that if you are caught playing on an unlicensed sportsbook, you can be subjected of a fine of more than $4,000. However, the code also states that “gambling which is just for momentary pleasure is exempted”. If you are placing a bet as a leisure activity, rather than as your profession, you will probably not face prosecution.
Nevertheless, the authorities do not make it easy for people to place bets with such sportsbooks. Internet Service Providers in South Korea are required to block the IP address of many sportsbooks, which renders them inaccessible. Some people get around this by using a VPN (virtual private network), but it can also be advisable to use funds through an e-wallet such as Skrill or Neteller rather than your own bank. One indicator of how the government views gambling in general is that Koreans are not allowed to gamble at 16 out of the 17 casinos that have been opened in the country – the vast majority are purely for overseas visitors to use.
There was a reminder of the official approach to betting in June 2021, when 17 people were arrested on suspicion that they were running an illegal betting operation. It remains to be seen whether South Korea will move to make online sports betting legal in the near future.
In common with most of the world, decimal odds are the format used most by the only official sports betting outlets in South Korea. Apart from a few areas including the UK and Ireland, which use fractional odds, and North America, where moneyline odds are very popular, decimal odds are used in most areas where sports betting takes place.
One reason for the format’s presence in so many territories is that for most people it is the easiest way of understanding the probability of a particular outcome. For instance, if you believe the Kia Tigers will win their next South Korean baseball match, you may see their odds as 2.5.That means if you place a bet of $10 on the Tigers and they win, you will collect $25. The fractional odds for the same bet would be 6/4, while on the moneyline they would be +150. In each of those instances, you have to remember you will get your stake back if your pick is correct, rather than being factored in already.
South Korean baseball may not be the national sport – that honor is still held by taekwondo – but in terms of the amount of interest in baseball, it really could be. The domestic Korean baseball league (KBO League) regularly draws a total attendance of more than eight million each season, while South Korea won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Several Koreans have graduated to the Major Leagues in the United States , while there is huge interest in watching American action. If online sports betting was ever legalized in South Korea, it is certain that there would be an enormous level of wagering on the sport.
Online sports gambling is not legal in South Korea, and there are potentially heavy penalties for those who break this law. At the same time, it is unusual for the authorities to impose such punishments, although there are several obstacles to overcome before it is possible to wager on the offshore sportsbooks that are available to Korean bettors.
Technically, gambling through your mobile device in South Korea is not allowed. The country’s criminal code specifically makes such an activity illegal. It is possible to wager with offshore websites, but you will probably have to set up a VPN to do so and then to wager through an e-wallet.
The only sports betting that is allowed in South Korea is on the games available through the state-run lottery-style Sports Toto and Sports Proto products. If you want to take part in any form of gambling in the country, you will need to be at least 18 years old.
In South Korea baseball fans are extremely numerous and make this the most popular sport in the country. Taekwondo is still officially the national sport of South Korea; but the sheer numbers of people who enjoy watching action from the domestic KBO League and the Major Leagues in the US prove that baseball is the No.1 sport in the modern South Korea.