Examining the Legality of Betting in South Korea and Alternate Solutions in 2021

The Korea Republic is a well-known sporting nation, with that point being emphasized most recently with the 2018 Winter Olympics and the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which the nation hosted. Closely tied for the top spot are baseball and football. Fandom runs deep with both, particularly in football, thanks to the quality available even below the top tier, such as in K League 2, where Busan IPark currently plays.

However, the focus of the nation of nearly 52 million people isn’t secluded to football and baseball. Golf continues to rise in prominence, as does the newest sport of them all, eSports. Around those, the likes of swimming, basketball, bowling, volleyball, badminton, and figure skating all boast strong followings. With so much interest in sports, one would assume that there’s also a lot of betting action, which is true, to an extent.

Betting and sports have long gone hand-in-hand around the world. In South Korea, the activity is permitted, but there isn’t as much of an open market that’s flourished elsewhere. So, to clear things up, we’re unpicking the legality of betting in South Korea as well as savvy ways that bettors are finding better options.

The evolving regulations and bizarre gambling laws

Despite the widespread devotion to several sports, South Korea has mostly been stigmatized due to a fear of government recourse to its peculiar or vague laws. These included, but weren’t limited to, it being illegal for a Korean national to gamble abroad and all but one of the casinos in the country – with that one being the Kangwon Land Casino & Hotel – being off-limits to Korea’s citizens.

Eventually, many laws were changed, and limited forms of betting became available to the residents of South Korea. Now, there’re two state-run betting platforms, and it’s legal to gamble on lotteries, powerboat racing, cycling, and horse racing in-person at designated locations. Even in its current form, particularly online, betting has become very popular in the Korean Republic.

However, the problem that is always seen when nations establish and control a monopoly on any sector, the offering to the public tends to stagnate at best. The two sports betting platforms, Sports Toto and Sports Proto are very limited in their offerings when compared to the greater online betting scene, predominantly because they’ve technically monopolized the sector by being run by the state’s national lottery.

Sports Toto is a pari-mutuel betting platform, which is a method of betting often deployed to circumvent anti-gambling laws, thus showing that it’s not a proper form of betting. You can bet on a range of popular sports here, with the bets being pooled and then divided equally among winners – as well as the government taking a percentage of each pool.

Sports Proto is more akin to the usual sports betting site that bettors elsewhere in the world would expect to see. It utilized fixed odds, with bettors taking the odds shown at the time of placing a bet. However, there are few caveats to the platform. Firstly, you can only bet on baseball and basketball. Secondly, the payouts given are often far lower than with sites that have to compete in open markets.

Finding better value for your money in Korea


Sports Toto and Sports Proto are incredibly limited by design, while sites within Korea that make use of agents who collect and pay bets are strictly illegal. As such, many sports fans turn to foreign betting sites, but doing so takes a bit of setting up to guarantee the safety of your identity and money. This isn’t because the international platforms are dangerous; it’s to get around the ISP blocks set up around gambling sites.

Should you want to utilize sites that meet the lofty international standard for Online betting in South Korea, you’ll need to follow the three key steps. First, you’ll need an eWallet account that accepts transactions in Euros (€). Next, get some English ID documentation ready, as you’ll need your photo ID and a translated utility bill in English to pass the registration process. Finally, a VPN can go a long way towards gaining access to the best sites.

With the preparation completed, you’ll essentially be able to pick whichever of the top online betting sites that you want to use. All of the leading sites that operate in several nations will offer better welcome bonuses, markets, odds, and features than the state-owned sites in South Korea. However, it’s important to find ones that are licensed and have a great reputation before joining as, after all, you’re still betting online.

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Haps Staff
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