Casinos in Korea: Everything You Need to Know About the Industry

Restrictions in Korea are the norm. Take North Korea as an example. Crossing its borders with religious or political items can get you into trouble. So, it would be normal to expect gambling to face backlash too. South Korea is not very different regarding restrictions, and many visitors have expressed concerns about their access to casinos. So, can you gamble in Korea?

The answer is yes and no. In this article, we will detail the legal landscape in Korea, how it affects citizens and tourists, and how you can gamble while in the region. We will also cover how some reputable casino sites like YesBet88 have eased access to gambling. That way, you will know what rules apply to you based on your citizenship:

Gambling in North Korea

Separately covering North Korea and South Korea will give you a better glimpse of the legalities surrounding casinos. It’s no secret that North Korea has harsher regulations in both regions. So, as you may have already anticipated, accessing casinos in this country is not easy.


Offline Gambling

Offline gambling is generally illegal. Even so, tourists can gamble if they are on guided tours. The country has one casino in the capital, called Pyongyang, where tourists can play. Citizens cannot get access to this casino and thus cannot participate in the games.

Online Gambling

In many countries where offline gambling faces restrictions, citizens rely on online gambling sites to enjoy casino games. But in North Korea, this grey area is not as grey as in other regions. Why?

  • The government regulates the internet so citizens can only access a highly regulated free domestic network. As such, they cannot access online gambling sites. Even if they wish to access the sites, they cannot see them even if they rely on VPNs.
  • Not many people have access to the internet in the country. Thus, for many people, online gambling is not an option.
  • Citizens found gambling online face jail time or other penalties. So, even if they bypass the checks and make it to the online casinos, they would be breaking the law.

However, there is an exception to this access. Tourists do not face as many checks and can use the internet more freely. Thus, those who do not wish to gamble in the country’s capital can access online gambling sites. Some of the games available on sites that serve Korea are:

  1. Baccarat,
  2. Poker,
  3. Bingo,
  4. Roulette, and
  5. Blackjack.
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As such, online and offline casino games are only available to tourists.

Gambling in South Korea

While there are hurdles to accessing casino sites in North Korea, the legal landscape is more forgiving. Moreover, the country has access to more casinos, making it easier for citizens to enjoy what has become a favorite pastime.


Offline Gambling

Like in North Korea, the rules applicable to citizens and tourists differ. Tourists can gamble in the more than twenty casinos scattered throughout the country. So, if you enjoy gambling in your home country, you can keep up with gaming even while in the country.

But the legal landscape becomes a bit murky when it comes to citizens. South Korea has set harsh laws against gambling. South Koreans, by default, should not engage in gambling. The rules are so strict that they traverse borders. Citizens who gamble outside the country can face jail once they return home. Per the law, lawbreakers are subject to three years imprisonment. As such, discretion is key to avoiding penalties.

Even so, there is one exception. Casino Sangwon, the country’s biggest casino, allows citizens and tourists to participate in the games. It lies in Gangwon Province, which is not accessible to most citizens. Thus, despite its existence, it does not bridge the gap between the citizens and casinos.

Online Gambling

South Koreans enjoy gambling and do not let the legal challenges faze them. Not only have they figured out how to participate in sports betting, but they also found means to game in online casinos. While online gambling is illegal, they have found the following loopholes:

  • They sign up on overseas casino sites that will accept their wagers. While the government tries to crack down on these sites, doing so is challenging. So, there is always a site willing to accept South Korean players,
  • They use VPNs to maintain their anonymity while accessing overseas sites,
  • Some rely on e-wallets, cryptocurrencies, and other intermediary payment methods which can hide their identities,
  • Given the high rate of technological advancements, there is always a technology enabling citizens to gamble online.

As a result of all these means, the rate of online gambling has increased in the country, surpassing the government’s ability to curb the pastime.

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Why Are Online Casinos So Popular?


One might wonder why South Koreans are willing to adopt several measures to participate in online games. There are several reasons behind this, with the top motivations being:

1. Accessibility: The only casino that allows citizens to play casino games is Casino Sangwon which lies in the Gangwon Province. Most citizens cannot commute to this casino regularly. Even those who can still find it inconvenient to make the trip. Online casinos offer a better alternative as they:

    • Are available straight from the phone or desktop– citizens do not need to commute,
    • Are available 24/7: these casinos work day and night. So citizens can enjoy their favorite games whenever they wish.

2. Variety: Online casinos feature a wide range of games. So, players can enjoy trying different versions of the same game. That is unlike offline casinos, where the only games available are those on the casino floor.

3. Affordability: When players do not need to commute to the casinos, pay tips, or enjoy drinks in the casinos, they save money. But that’s not the only pocket-friendly factor about online setups. They also:

    • Have low buyins: Most casinos will accept players to enjoy a game for as low as $1. Even players who do not have a big budget can enjoy several games, increasing their profitability.
    • Feature a range of bonuses: Players do not always need to invest their capital to enjoy a payout. Many casinos offer deposit, sign-up, promotional, and loyalty bonuses. So, a player can start a game with little cash and walk away with a lot of money.
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4. Anonymity: Gaming in South Korea is illegal and carries a prison term of up to three years. It is thus imperative that citizens avoid getting caught. Thus, besides using VPNs, they also trust that online sites can help them protect their identities. And this is possible by wiring the money from their gaming accounts via e-wallets and cryptocurrencies.

Gaming has become such a popular pastime in South Korea that many people hope it will someday be legal. In the meantime, they can focus on using VPNs, accessing reputable sites, and enjoying their favorite casino games.