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The Republic of Korea, better known as South Korea, has grown in just a few decades from a developing country into the world's fourth-largest economy, a high-income country, and a world leader in technology and innovation.

Read till the end to learn more about a country that may well be worth investing in.

The South Korean market

One of the most fascinating instances of economic success in Asia is the Republic of Korea, a developed nation with an A2 credit rating from Moody’s and, as of 2018, a GDP of $2.139 trillion and a GDP per capita of $41,400.

The country’s economic success is entwined with its technological advancement.

The society of South Korea is regarded as one of the most technologically sophisticated in the world. Korea is a technological leader with the world's fastest mobile internet. The love of technology features in the populace’s leisure time; video games are wildly popular, as is gambling (including online gambling), though restrictive legislations make participation difficult.

Overview of the gambling industry and legislation of the Republic of Korea

Land-based casinos

Land-based casinos are subject to licensing and strictly regulated. Casinos were banned in South Korea until 1967, when the enactment of the Tourism Promotion Act legalized gambling for foreigners visiting the country. There are now a couple dozen land-based gambling places for tourists in Korea; however, citizens found gambling are harshly punished.

According to the criminal code, South Korean citizens are strictly forbidden from visiting gambling institutions, even outside their country, under threat of fines or imprisonment. Though authorities do not often trace citizens on their travels, there have been cases of exemplary punishments for flagrant or conspicuous infractions.

There are about two dozen land-based gambling businesses in Korea, including eight casinos located on the tourist island of Jeju. Only the Kangwon Land Casino in Gangwon's northern region is available to South Koreans. The other venues exclusively allow international players.

Retail Sports Betting

Offline sports betting is regulated by the National Sports Promotion Act and by the Bicycle Racing Act, both of December 19, 2017. Ktoto is the exclusive provider of sports betting, offering parimutuel betting through Sports Toto and fixed-odds betting with Sports Proto. The Korea Racing Authority is solely responsible for horse race betting.

Lotteries

Lotteries are very popular in South Korea.

The Korea Lottery Commission can set lottery policies, regulate the sale and issuance of lottery tickets, and supervise advertising campaigns. The sole operator appointed by the Korea Lottery Commission is Dong Hang Lottery.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the pandemic-related cancellation of sport and horse racing events brought the Dong Hang Lottery Co. 10% more sales than the year before, making KRW 5.98 trillion ($5 billion) in 2021, a new record. Online lottery sales grew by 8.4%, paper lotteries were up by 19.8%, electronic lotteries jumped up 25.6%, and the pension lottery rose by as much as 29.2%.

NH Bank's fund management agency can oversee payments from sales and prize fund management, as well as the payout of winnings. Retailers can sell lotteries online and pay out small cash prizes, or provide printed lottery tickets to retail stores and give away winning lottery prizes.

Online Gambling

Online gambling regulations can leave players in a difficult situation: casino platforms are completely banned, while sports betting, including cybersports, fantasy sports, and horse racing, is not regulated.

Due to legal restrictions, internet service providers block international gambling operators' websites, and financial institutions forbid transactions with online casinos. In a recent — but not isolated — case, an unlicensed operator with more than 7,000 employees targeting foreign players handling $92 million in stakes in turnover was arrested.

In addition to sports betting, Korean players frequently visit offshore platforms offering games like slots, roulette, baccarat, and wheel of fortune, often using advanced technology to access the gambling sites. One common tool is a VPN; it allows you to bypass blocked sites by appearing as a different IP address from another country.

Responsible Gambling in Korea

The National Gambling Control Commission was founded in 2007, with the passing of the National Gambling Control Commission Act (Ordinance No. 8279). The main goal of the NGCC is to encourage a responsible gaming culture. In order to protect players and regulate the overall number of gambling organizations, the NGCC established the CAP system and the electronic player card system.

Additionally, they conduct yearly evaluations of the gaming operators for ethical management and provide assistance at gambling websites. The organization is also responsible for the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction. NGCC and the Korean Gambling Addiction Prevention Agency (KPGA) collectively provide support for gamblers and their families. In addition, the NGCC carefully monitors the black market.

Online casino and sportsbook software

Finding quality software is essential for launching an online casino or sportsbook. The platform should not only be safe, reliable, functional, and user-friendly, but also visually attractive, because the first thing players will see is the design of the site, and only then start using the site and gamble. You can start your own online casino project in just a few clicks with our multifunctional gambling software.

Korean players’ game preferences

A wide selection of games is one of the main factors in the success of the casino. Make sure the content you offer in a specific region will appeal to a local audience. Players will not visit your casino if there are too few games, or if the available titles are irrelevant to the target audience.

Slots are always an important part of a casino’s portfolio. However, consider the cultural aspects of the region. South Koreans enjoy products of both their own and Western culture, such as animated cartoons, K-pop stars, and popular American movies. These categories are excellent choices when it comes to themes for online slots.

As in other Asian countries, South Korean players love classic card games, such as poker, baccarat, and blackjack, and their online versions are popular as well. Players also like roulette, a timeless and classic that has attracted players for many years.

Another type of game that is popular in South Korea, as in other Asian countries, is live dealer games. The way that live dealer games recreate the casino atmosphere and add the social aspect of chatting to dealers and fellow players is especially appealing in South Korea, where players are banned from visiting brick-and-mortar establishments.

Please note, finding proven suppliers of quality games is a time-consuming and difficult process. It requires a full and in-depth study of the market, as well as negotiations with each game provider. However, you can save a lot of time and money by using a reputable aggregator. Doing so will not only offer a selection of new and innovative games through a single integration, but also regularly update the portfolio of game content.

A selection of sports

If you are opening a sportsbook, the choice of available sports and bets is extremely important. First of all, make sure that the types of bets and wagers you offer meet the expectations of local players. The most important sports in South Korea are baseball, soccer, bowling, badminton, and golf, so give these sports special attention on your betting platform.

In addition to classic sports, esports and cyber sports tournaments are rapidly gaining in popularity across Asia. Thousands of viewers attend tournaments for esports like Counter Strike: Global Offensive to watch teams compete for thousands of dollars in prize money (and often betting huge amounts themselves).

Licensing

While South Koreans enjoy gambling as much as everyone else, restrictive local laws block South Korean entrepreneurs from opening a domestic platform to serve their own market.

However, there are a number of different offshore jurisdictions that offer licensing services to international businesses. Online casino businesses registered in jurisdictions like Curaçao and Gibraltar offer their services to markets around the world, provided they remain within the terms of their license.

Licenses are necessary for cooperation with most payment processors and game developers, as well as establishing legitimacy in the eyes of players.

Payment methods

Fast and smooth transactions are an absolute necessity for success in the iGaming industry. The faster and easier it is for players to make deposits and withdraw their winnings, the more loyal they will be to your platform.

In addition, players need plenty of options for how to conduct those transactions, whether as fiat currencies or cryptocurrencies.

The popularity of cryptocurrency as a payment method is growing among Korean players. About 3.9 percent of Koreans, or about two million people, hold some kind of cryptocurrency. Nearly 30 percent of the world's crypto trading runs through South Korea, making the country the world's largest crypto market.

In addition to cryptocurrency, players in South Korea use classic credit and debit cards, as well as payment systems such as PayPal, BitPay, and e-wallets like ecoPayz, iWallet, PayCo, KakaoPay, etc. Bank transfers are scrupulously monitored for gambling operations, so they are not very popular.

To facilitate the integration of each payment system and reduce the paperwork generated by signing a separate contract with each vendor, you can use an aggregator to integrate all payment methods at once. For example, our Moneygrator solution combines 250 payment systems for different gambling markets in a single integration session.

How can Slotegrator help?

If the process of opening an online casino seems very confusing, complicated, and financially costly, that’s because it easily can be. Challenges such as creating a business structure, developing a platform, and dealing with international bureaucracy and regulations are just the beginning.

That is why many operators turn to aggregator companies, such as Slotegrator, to save time and money, avoid paperwork, and eliminate potential mistakes. In addition, instead of constantly negotiating with new game content providers, they can purchase a portfolio of 15,000 games from more than 100 developers in a single agreement.

We also offer turnkey gaming platform development and White Label solutions to speed up the process of launching an online casino. In addition, our legal team is always ready to help operators with complex issues related to the licensing process and the regulations of specific jurisdictions.

Ayvar Gabidullin
Ayvar Gabidullin
Business Development Manager
Ayvar has over five years of experience managing B2B and B2C sales departments in the online gambling industry. He started his career working in customer support for online casinos and grew to become the head of a department offering tailored services to VIP players. He joined Slotegrator with a strong focus on our company’s products and deep knowledge of what players need. His passion for the industry leads him to keep expanding his knowledge every day.

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