Watching sports is one of the favourite pastimes of Koreans. These sports are good forms of entertainment for the locals that many are willing to spend money to see their teams win. Some even place huge bets on the teams they follow. This is the reality the government has accepted and want to take advantage of.
North Koreans, while often perceived as stiff people, are also fond of sports. They are, however, not permitted to engage in any gambling, sports betting included. Tourists are free to bet on sports while they are in North Korea, but there are no bookies in the region. Even online sports betting is foreign to them.
On the other side of Korea, sports betting is allowed and legal for locals. South Koreans have various options for placing their bets including Sports Toto and Sports Proto.
Sports Toto or pari-mutuel betting is one of the legal forms of sports betting in the region. The organization was founded in October 2001 as a public service program that promotes sports leisure and sports fund. Punters are allowed to place their bets on football, baseball, volleyball, basketball, golf, and ssireum. This leisure activity permits locals to predict accurately the results of the mentioned sports.
In the pari-mutuel betting, all the bets are pooled together but the winning person will not be able to take home the entire prize money as a certain percentage will go to the Sports Promotion Fund, which will be used to support several international sports events in the country. Ktoto is the sole licensee in Korea in partnership with Korea Sports Promotion Foundation (KSPO).
Across all games included in the Sports Toto, only 50 percent of the sales are placed into the betting pool, which will then be split among the winners.
In Soccer Toto, different types of wagering options are available: predicting the win, draw, or loss across 14 varying matches, predicting the first and second half scores in a match and predicting the correct score in two or three matches. This first type of betting has better odds compared with betting on 14-fold accumulators. Betting 14-folds is not a good choice on online betting sites because sometimes their charges are more than 50 percent. Online sports betting sites becomes the better choice when betting on favourites. Favourites get most of the bets making the odds far better.
Guessing the correct halftime scores are often not available online. This type of bet is only worthy if punters predict an unlikely score. Predicting the accurate score in two or three matches have the best odds among online bookies. They are popular for online bettors because of the far better payouts.
Basketball Toto provides punters a unique form of betting opportunity not readily available among online sports betting sites. The main game is guessing whether the home team will win by 6 points or more, away team will win by 6 or more, or none of the team will win by six or more. Punters can also choose to predict the correct ending score in two or three matches and also the halftime scores in a match.
Baseball Toto in Korea is also something one would not encounter by playing solely on online betting platforms. The main game is won by predicting the correct number of home runs and the total number of runs scored by each team in four games. A game that allows bettors to predict the top three highest pointing team among the teams scheduled to play on a given day.
One of the underrated sports betting offerings is the Volleyball Toto. The lottery matches two teams and bettors must correctly choose the score for the set and the winning margin for the first set.
Another sports South Koreans and expats can bet on is the Golf Toto. In this game, punters can choose a particular player as he plays against 11 more golfers. The bet is placed on whether the player will win, lose, or force a draw against each of the 11 players.
Sports Proto is a fixed betting odds option. Bettors have a higher probability of winning because the payout is calculated by multiplying the stake to the predetermined payout ratio.
Most South Koreans bet on football and baseball. Football is probably the one that receives the most bets, with punters concentrating on the K-League and several major international tournaments like the AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup. There are a few who also bet on the English Premier League.
Baseball is also one of the favourites in the region. Bets are commonly placed on the Olympics, the KBO League, and the Major League Baseball (MBL).
Horse racing also receives a good number of bets from the locals.
South Korea has had a love-hate relationship with gambling. Before gambling was even legalized in the country, law enforcers are keen on cracking down on any form of gambling. As the years progressed, the government shifted its focus on attracting more tourists to the country. Law enforcers became lax when it came to implementing gambling laws. It was in 1997 that Korea started Sports Toto and Sports Proto.
A few years later, casinos became part of the Korean landscape. The region now has eight casinos in Jeju Island, three casinos in Seoul and Kyongju, two in Busan and Incheon, and one each in Pusan, Jeongseongun, Pyeong Chang gun, and Sokch’o City. Access to these casinos, however, are exclusive for foreign passport holders only. These foreigner-only casinos offer visitors and expats living in the country a wide variety of betting options including video machines, jackpot slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, Tai Sai, Three-Card Poker, 7 Luck 21, Caribbean stud poker, Texas Hold’em poker, Big Wheel, and casino war.
The government has been mulling about making casinos more accessible to Koreans. This will make foreigner-only casinos open for all, including the citizens of Korea. The openness of the Koreans to gambling is evident in the high-stakes APPT Seoul Poker Tournament organized by pokerstars.com last 2012.
Most of the arrest related to gambling are mainly due to cheating or match-fixing and mafia-backed betting. Locals who gamble while on holiday with friends is something the government is not so strict about.
While the gambling laws remain largely unchanged in the past decade, the Korean government is more open to allowing gambling activities in the country. Many of the locals who are not happy with the lone casino in the country often find comfort and enjoyment in online sports betting websites.
Technically, online sports betting is illegal for South Koreans but not for tourists. Foreigners, expats, and tourists are free to gamble anywhere and any way they find convenient for them. Since most of the sports betting options available in the country do not have competitive odds compared with Western leagues, most of the foreigners use online sports betting sites to get the best odds for a particular sport.
There are online bookies that cater to the Asian market. Most Asian bookies are available in the Korean language, making it a great choice for the locals since many of them are still not fluent in English. These sites accept South Korean won (KRW) and local bank transfer with zero fees. South Koreans would find it easier to use. One may find using Asian bookies as a great option for betting on soccer/football. They will be able to bet on Korean leagues, La Liga, English Premier League, Serie A, and Bundesliga among others. Other sports covered by these bookies include tennis, basketball, and baseball.
European bookies are also accessible from Korea. These sports bookies also offer Korean sports as well as international sports that are not commonly offered by Asian bookies. European sites offer punters pre-match and live in-play betting. Gamers are in for a treat as they are given more betting options including total goals, home-draw-away, the match-winner, correct score, and first to score bets. Online sports betting websites also allow bettors to watch live streaming of the game.
While the government is becoming lax in terms of monitoring financial dealings of its citizens, the best way to fund online accounts is through e-wallets. Over the years, digital wallets have seen remarkable growth in South Korea as more and more South Koreans recognizes the ease and convenience of having one. Some of the popular options include Samsung Pay, Kakao Pay, N Pay, SSG Pay, and Lotte Pay.
Some users may use Skrill, an online bank account that lets them make deposits to and withdrawals from their online gambling site accounts.