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Best Online Casinos for Players from South Korea
South Koreans, like players everywhere else in the world, enjoy gambling. The government maintains an exclusive monopoly on lottery and sports betting and awards licenses for land-based casinos.
There is currently no legal online or land-based interactive casino gambling in the country, so there are no government-issued licenses or regulation of remote casino games which are forbidden by law.
Several offshore operators are glad to welcome players, however, those players are on their own to determine whether or not they want to play online as the game providers do not take responsibility for any legal problems customers might find themselves in.
The gambling laws are unique in that there are several terrestrial casinos in the country but only one venue where residents may play casino games - Kangwon Land in a remote mining area not easily reached from the main population centers.
While allowing one 'local' outlet for traditional gaming, the government is so adamantly opposed to gambling as a hobby that South Korean law follows citizens even when they travel overseas. It is technically illegal for a citizen to play slots, roulette, blackjack, or other traditional games anywhere in the world except at Kangwon Land.
Of course, the law is rarely enforced on people who might frequent a casino when visiting a region where gambling liberalized. When it is enforced, it is usually an extra charge levied against an otherwise criminal actor. Sometimes, a person's high profile lifestyle seems to leave authorities no choice. The law is applied to ‘habitual gamblers’.
In one case, a celebrity who couldn't seem to stay out of the limelight while visiting the Philippines even after previous run-ins with the law was convicted of gambling overseas.
Tips for South Korean Online Gambling
Aside from some predominantly Muslim counties, South Korea is one of the least liberal places in the world for citizen gamblers. Some who circumvent the law choose to keep a low profile at home and only visit offshore sites.
Penalties for gambling outside of the government monopolies can be strict and include the possibility of imprisonment in addition to fines.
In order to stay within the graces of the authorities, South Koreans can play the lottery and sports lottery. Pari-mutuel sports betting is also allowed on horse, boat, and cycle racing as well as soccer and basketball.
A trip to Kangwon Land is another option, depending on your resources. The venue is open 20 hours each day. After a two-year reduction in table count, they are back to full capacity with 180 felts and wheels to bet on.
Although a determined gambler could find an underground gambling hall, and the wealthy may be able to arrange passage to Jeju and some private gaming there, the land-based options for the average person are extremely limited by design.
Those who choose to gamble online need as much information on their side as possible. This is especially true because the government doesn't provide any protection unless you are playing lotteries or betting on sports at an authorized online site.
Following are a few things to consider when choosing an online casino:
- Consult trusted sources for good advice
- Read the terms and conditions
- Consult industry blacklists
Get good advice. It's important to learn all you can about a site before you give them the privilege of earning your trust for the long run.
Simply trusting an internet search engine to deliver quality, unbiased information is a fool's errand. Even if you specifically refine your search to a narrow focus, the number of results can be overwhelming. And the results will not necessarily be of the highest quality.
See the following for an example of search terms and results:
Casino reviews - About 311,000,000 results
Online casino reviews - About 76,200,000 results
Online casino reviews South Korea - 5,550,000 results
Trusted online casino reviews South Korea - 3,550,000 results
There are literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of web pages on the internet with links to casinos. They all have one thing in common, including this page. When you click through and become a casino customer, the website makes money from the referral.
Some website operators either don't know enough or simply don't care whether their visitors land in a good spot or a bad spot offshore, as long as they get credit for the referral.
Some portals offer critical unbiased reviews and can hold the operator to account for their practices. In addition to this site we trust the following review site:
After you find a casino that accepts players from your region, is transparent, licensed, and responsive, it's time to...
Read the terms and conditions. This section is the contract between you and the operator. When you accept the terms and conditions you have shaken hands with the operator and agreed the terms are fair, even if some of them are not to your liking.
Some of the reviews you might see at the trusted portals will go into detailed analyses of terms, especially those related to a bonus. Others will have actual player comments, feedback, and ratings as well as a direct connection to casino support.
Others still, have simply examined the operation and will tell you if the operator has a good reputation or an uneven history of on-time payments, fair rule enforcement, etc.
However useful that information is, there is no substitute for knowing the rules so you can abide by them and collect your winnings when it's time to cash out.
If you see something that looks too good to be true or find a rule that seems predatory, it probably is. Trust your instincts. Some of the language can seem contradictory or like it was written by lawyers to confuse you.
Avoid bad actors. While it's true that some casinos may get off on the wrong foot or run through a rough patch for on-time payments, for the most part, a bad operator will remain so unless someone has choked off their revenue and held their fee to the fire.
Read our blacklist to find the unredeemed or unredeemable operations. We deal with online operators all day, every day, so we can keep track of them for you. We can't watch them all, but when an operator goes bad, they find their name listed in shame with a warning against giving them your business.
If you wonder why some sites are listed at or near the top of lists here, it is because they are highly rated by players like you or they have been given a seal of approval.
Wherever you decide you play, you should feel confident that when luck comes your way and you have played fairly, you will get paid.
While people in much of the world are faced with the same challenges to play online, South Korea presents its citizens with some unique challenges.
Unique Challenges for Online Gamblers in South Korea
In addition to the potential legal consequences of simply gambling offshore, the government has added two obstacles for the erstwhile gambler to overcome - internet blocking and payment blocking.
South Korea's filtering of illegal internet content differs in one primary way from that in other countries with robust enforcement. The policies are the result of democratic processes rather than authoritarian impositions.
The Korean Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) regulates, monitors, and effectively censors the content available to residents of the country.
The KCSC blacklists web addresses of known online casinos. They enlist the help of internet infrastructure operators in blocking those sites. Operators simply monitor the Server Name Identification (SNI) field to observe the paths of all traffic but not the content of any given site. This means that legal content isn't spied on as it is on China or Russia - it's simply blocked if the site is on the blacklist.
Certain web browsers such as TOR and some virtual private networks (VPN) can easily circumvent the blockade.
As of this writing, there are no laws against citizens using a VPN or other masking technology. South Koreans are legally allowed to use VPNs.
You can deposit and withdraw funds from online casinos in South Korea.
We're not aware of any direct actions by the government to block payments specifically because they were going to or from an online casino. However, the payment processing system lends itself to easy oversight and interruption.
Gambling operators who desire commerce with South Koreans have ways to assist with deposits and withdrawals. Clients may need to use eWallets or other forms of direct money transfer as payment methods. We'll go into SticPay and other options in more detail in the banking sections below.
Now that we know South Koreans can enter the virtual lobby of an offshore casino, deposit funds, gamble, win, and withdraw the proceeds, let's look at what all is available.
Live Dealer Options for Players in South Korea
Since the authorities have done all they can by the time you enter the lobby, and because they do not regulate any online casinos, the choice of games is now simply down to what the operator provides and the players choose.
All of the games found in Jeongseon-gun, Macao, Manilla, Genting highlands, Las Vegas, or any other casino in the world are found in online casinos.
Live games are streamed from dedicated studios and directly from terrestrial casino floors around the world. The user interface is simply a hybrid between the multiple camera views of the table and dealer in action and a digital overlay that allows players to place bets, chat with dealers and other players, and see the history of results among other things.
Some of the providers include Asia Gaming, n2-LIVE, Ezugi, Vivo, SA, Ho Gaming, and at least a dozen more. Live providers licensed in the Philippines are the most likely to have native language tables for Korean players, but some of the eastern European providers licensed in Malta offer native language games.
Licensed and Regulated South Korean Casinos
None of the online sites accessible to Koreans are licensed by the government in Seoul. That does not mean that denizens have to be without most of the same assurances and sometimes the same protections as players in locally regulated jurisdictions.
PAGCOR licenses and regulates operators with offices, servers, or studios in the Philippines. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licenses and regulates most online casinos that are based in Europe and serve players in the east. In fact, thanks to international anti-money laundering and other laws, perhaps 99.9% of online casinos are licensed somewhere.
While a license assures certain protections to players, not all jurisdictions provide the same levels of regulation. For instance, an operator 'licensed' in Costa Rica may only have an internet business license, whereas an operator licensed in Curacao is subject to the laws of the Netherlands. However, regulators there stop short of managing disputes or enforcing fair terms and conditions.
With this knowledge, the player must keep due diligence in mind, just as players anywhere else when playing at an offshore site.
Casino Trust and Security
In addition to the level of trust players and operators extend to each other as well as licensing considerations, the actual security of online transactions from the first visit to the last cashout is of paramount importance.
Casinos licensed in Malta will have a link on the page directly to their licensing certificate. On that page, you will see the game providers that are also licensed there. In order to obtain a game provider license, the developer must prove that the games are fair.
Testing and certification is done not only through the simulation of millions of game instances but also by auditing of the core component of online gaming, the random number generator (RNG).
Independent third-party laboratories like QUINEL, iTechLabs, and GLi audit, inspect, and certify all RNG games from licensed online providers.
Data including your personal and financial information is secured by encrypted networks with a minimum of 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption.
A VPN may provide more strength making it harder to hack (3.31 x 1056 years) but that will not keep the government from seeing the path to and from you and the casino if your VPN 'leaks' your IP anyway.
Your traffic - coming and going - should all be redirected through an anonymous DNS server. If it leaks now and then it will have sent your request for the casino webpage directly to your Internet Service provider. If the casino is on the blacklist, your traffic will be blocked.
Thankfully, the KCSC uses Server Name Identification, so they can't actually see the content of the pages you visit, only the server name. This also allows them to block specific sites on a server rather than entire blocks of servers (DNS blocking). The good news is that if you experience a leak when visiting a website that has not been blacklisted, nobody will be the wiser.
However, since the potential penalties for gambling can be high, it is advisable for anyone using a VPN to take precautions. A simple internet search of "VPN IP leak" should point the way to a personalized solution.
Banking Options for South Korean Players
A few matters of personal financial security should be addressed before looking much further into what is possible and what is not possible.
The Financial Services Commission (FSC) and Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) keep a close eye on all transactions, especially foreign exchanges. The National Tax Service will be notified whenever USD 10,000 or more is exchanged in a single year.
Overseas remittances over USD 50,000 require extensive declarations and other paperwork.
Nonbank remittance providers such as MoneyGram, TransferWise, Utransfer, and Western Union have their own reporting requirements but at least they are now available. Limits for nonbank foreign exchange remittance are set at USD 5,000 per transaction and USD 50,000 per year.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a handy tool for gambling in South Korea. Some players may already know their way around the virtual currencies space - others might be willing to spend less than an hour learning the ins and outs of it.
Since the middle of 2018, digital currency exchanges like Coinbase have been able to register with the Korean government. This was welcome news for many reasons - the most important being increased anonymity and speed of transfers.
While cryptocurrency exchanges are registered with the FSS under the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act, once you have purchased Bitcoin or another type of coin with Won, the government is no longer involved in any way until you exchange coins for Won again. They can see the money going in and coming out of the exchange, but only you and the casino see deposits and withdrawals.
Yes, each transaction is visible on the Blockchain for anyone, including regulators to see, but the signature is absolutely anonymous and unrelated to your country of origin, bank account, or anything else.
Of course, you will be depositing into an account that the casino has verified as belonging to you, but the FSS will never have access to that information from an offshore gaming site registered in another country and operating under their laws.
Depositing and Withdrawing when in South Korea
We've found the eWallets STICPAY and MuchBetter to be the best payment methods for players in South Korea. More well-known instruments like Skrill and Neteller are also options. PayPal became more restrictive in some markets as they have entered the Cryptocurrency market - but that could change.
Debit and credit cards
There is a very high likelihood that the Bank of Korea or another financial institution will block deposits to a foreign offshore casino. If you must try a bank-logo Visa, Mastercard, or Maestro make sure that it is activated for foreign purchases. Some operators use nondescript payment gateways to help facilitate such transactions.
BC Card and Lotte Card, as well as Shinhan, Kookmin, Woori, KEB, Hyundai, and Samsung Cards, are likely to be blocked in almost every instance and should only be used to fund an e-wallet, prepaid card or voucher, or other more anonymous methods. For instance, Woori Bank works well to fund a STICPAY wallet which can be used for casino deposits.
RuPay customers on the other hand may have more success with a direct deposit or onsite gift card purchase. UnionPay customers can follow their already familiar processes once within a casino cashier that offers the method.
Prepaid cards and gift cards
If you happen to have an e-money card on hand or would use it for something else if it were rejected at a casino that might be worth a try. The success or failure will depend on the operator's creativity and their payment processor's other reach into the Korean financial sector.
One of the best ways to deposit where the service is offered might be a gift card which can be purchased with almost any other international debit or credit card. These will be found right in the cashier section of the casino. In effect, you buy yourself a gift card and that card is automatically redeemed for real money credits. Your regular card statement will only show something like "Busan Giftcard - Sweden".
Mobile payments and eWallets
Carrier billing through SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus are not currently an option.
This part of the payment processing industry is exploding in South Korea with new options arriving at a dizzying pace. Unfortunately, too many of the options are for near-field (tap) and QR code and the online gambling industry has not caught up with these options yet. You are unlikely to find an operator that will provide a code to scan, let alone an NFC device for high rollers.
The good news is that the regulatory landscape is expanding opportunities faster than holes can be patched so one of your mobile payment options may work.
Many if not most online operators have integrated Bitcoin and altcoins into their cashiers. While a very few sites insist on gameplay in cryptos, most exchange it immediately for your chosen currency.
Bitcoin deposits can now be available for play instantly through a special integrated gateway, so players do not have to wait for three or more confirmations. The funds are available the moment the transaction appears on the blockchain.
Casino Withdrawals for South Korea
Charting the return path for your cashouts is just as important as finding a viable deposit method.
Subject to the transfer limits and reporting requirements mentioned above, bank wires and electronic fund transfers are the best way to get your winnings as directly as possible.
Moneygram, Western Union, and other nonbank remittances may be offered by some operators.
E-Wallets like Skrill and Neteller provide players with the most flexibility.
Depending on the operator's pending time if any and processing speed, Bitcoin withdrawals can be instant with the funds available for exchange in as few as 15 minutes. There is no instant-pay facility built-in, so the funds could sit in "mempool" for several minutes or even hours before being released for confirmations.
Advanced exchanges like Coinbase will make the funds available after the third confirmation - so depending on the blockchain processing speed at the moment, you can have your funds ready to convert back to Won in as little as a quarter of an hour.
Responsible Gambling for South Korea
Even well-intentioned governments can create as many problems as they solve when they prohibit potentially addictive activities such as gambling rather than regulate them. The South Korean citizen's only real bulwark against problem gambling is to not play at all or to play within the limits set at Kangwon land.
Slots players at the legally ordained gaming venue can only bet KRW1,000 (US$0.90) per spin, whereas some of the games found at offshore sites can have max bets many orders of magnitude higher than that. Table play there is limited as well while some online live dealer casinos allow bets up to KRW27.5m (US$25,000).
Most online providers will gladly help you set your own bet limits and some proactive sites have a facility built-in, so you can restrict yourself without engaging with another person.
Cooling off periods, betting/loss limits, and deposit limits are just a few of the tools available from operators. Players also have the option of self-exclusion for preset periods of time ranging up to a permanent self-exclusion.
Minimum age protections are in place at all online casinos but can vary from 18 to the legal age for residents in your country (19) to 21 years.
Since the government does not provide regulations and limits, players are at the mercy of their own devices as well as the responsible gambling help offered by their casino of choice.
Bonuses for South Korean Casinos
For the most part, the player in Korea is offered the same bonuses as the residents of any other country. In fact, since there are no government regulations on deposit incentives, operators have even more leeway in their ability to offer enhancements than they do in highly regulated markets like the UK or the Nordic region.
Look for the basic terms and conditions attached to any specific offer. These might include the percentage of bonus match, any additional bonus spins, certain game restrictions, maximum allowable bet with an active bonus, game weightings, wagering requirements or rollover, and possibly a maximum cashout amount among other conditions.
Some terms bonus terms might also be tucked away in the General Terms and Conditions.
As a rule of thumb, most new players can expect to find a 100% match bonus for their first deposit. Many will only allow slot play, but some operators offer incentives for table games and a rare few will allow bonus play on live dealer games. Wagering requirements may apply to the bonus only or a factor of the bonus plus deposit.
One example might be a 100% match up to $100 with a playthrough of 25 times the deposit plus bonus (25xd+b). Your deposit of $100 and the bonus funds of $100 create a balance of $200. This must be played through 25 times ($5,000) before any winnings can be withdrawn.
Each slot spin, win or lose, will reduce the wagering requirement by the value of that stake. Other games such as blackjack will count less.
Some sites may offer increased deposit/bonus limits or even an increased percentage match when you deposit with their preferred method. That method is often but not always cryptocurrency.
Casinos that accept Bitcoin pay lower processing fees and have no risk of chargebacks. Those operating cost savings can be passed onto the customer via more lucrative bonus offers, higher return to player percentages (RTP), and other enhancements in the operation.
Whereas the fiat cash limit for a 100% bonus might be $400, the Bitcoin match could be 200% up to 1BTC.
"South Korea wants to build casino industry where all are welcome but Koreans", Dan Wolken, usatoday.com
"South Korea Passes Bill to Regulate Cryptocurrency in Line With FATF Standards", Kevin Helms, bitcoin.com
South Korean Online Gambling FAQ
Are online casinos legal in South Korea?
No. The government has and enforces laws against Korean gamblers, sometimes even those who travel overseas to gamble. Online lotteries and parimutuel sports betting are the only interactive distance betting allowed under the law. Residents can only gamble online at government licensed outlets.
There is some disagreement among legal scholars on the legality of online poker in South Korea. While it is illegal for a company to provide online poker, there does not seem to be a specific law banning players from participating online in a skill-based game. Poker rooms are allowed outside of Kangwon Land, such as at Paradise Casino Walkerhill in Seoul.
What laws are in effect and what do they cover?
The code framework is dense and there are many laws on the books:
- BMRA – allows the KSPO to hold motorboat and bicycle race betting
- GIPA – makes online casino gambling illegal but allows online poker under certain conditions including a limit on the amount of chips that can be purchased (KRW 500,000/USD450)
- KCC – bans the act of gambling and the provenance of space to gamble
- KRAA - allows horse racing
- Lottery Act - allows certain businesses to issue lottery tickets under the authority of the Korea Lottery Commission
- NSPA – allows certain businesses to issue lottery tickets under the authority of the KSPO
- SAA - permits operation of licensed Speculative Businesses, usually in relation to lottery machines
- TPA - licenses the operation of Korean land-based casinos for foreigners
Are online casinos safe?
Yes. Most of them are. However, Korean players must be armed with the proper knowledge and ability to discern between good sites and rogue operators. Without an online regulatory framework in the republic, players should visit sites with robust player protections through their licensing regimen.
PAGCOR in the Philippines licenses most Asian-facing online operators. Other internationally licensed offshore sites may be licensed in Malta or elsewhere in Europe. All of the western European jurisdictions provide varying degrees of player protection and dispute resolution.
Will I find Korean language casinos and live dealers?
Yes, some. Many sites that accept Korean players will offer the user interface in the native language. Many will accept Wan, and several will feature Korean speaking croupiers and dealers. PAGCOR licensed sites are the most likely to fit your language needs, but others will as well.
Will I need to download Korean casino software?
No. Nearly all of the online casinos that accept players from your area operate on an instant play, browser based framework. Some Playtech, Microgaming, and even RTG sites may offer a download client for desktop.
Mobile games can be played right in your secure web browser, but a few sites, especially those that also offer poker or sport betting may have apps for Android or Apple iOS.
Can I use VPN software?
Players may need to use a VPN or other masking technology to visit their gaming site of choice. If this is the case, it's imperative that you speak with customer service and let them know you will be gambling anonymously. Some operators will allow the practice while others will void any winnings if you don't have explicit permission to use a VPN, TOR, or another masking device.
How can I deposit?
While direct banking and credit card/debit card deposits might be rife with challenges, many players have found that ewallets, gift cards, and Bitcoin can present a way around the obstacles.
The most sage advice may be to suggest that you visit a site, explore the banking options, and speak to a live chat agent about your options.
How can I withdraw?
Most of the deposit methods that work can also be used for withdrawals. Once the funds arrive in your ewallet or Bitcoin account you can transfer them to your regular bank account.
Those who are able to deposit with credit or debit card may need to have winnings wired to their bank account or elect for a nonbank remittance such as Moneygram. It's always advisable to chart a course of your money movement prior to depositing so you can be sure you'll be able to enjoy the winnings.
Can I get a bonus in South Korea?
Yes. Korean players are usually welcome to the same opening offers and ongoing incentives as anyone else. Some sites may offer special bonuses for Korean customers as well as for depositing with a preferred method such as Bitcoin. All of the information you need will be found under the Promotions or Bonuses tab.
Can I bet on sports too?
Yes. Many online casinos today offer a variety of gambling products. Under a single virtual roof you might find slots and card games, live dealer tables, poker rooms, sports betting, virtual sports, and even forex trading.
You can also sign up and bet at sites with a single vertical such as slots or sports.
What should I do if I have a problem getting paid?
Unfortunately you won't be able to go to the local authorities or gambling regulator for help. That does not mean you are completely out of luck in the event of a dispute.
The first step in resolving a problem is to work directly with the casino to solve any problems.
If that doesn't help, online forums including those at some of the trusted portal listing above may be able to help you.
The last line of defense may be to contact the site's licensing authority for help.
How long does it take to get paid?
Several variables can come into play when it comes time to be paid. Among these are the site's pending time if any before processing your payment; the processing time, and the withdrawal method.
Some sites will pay you within a few minutes of cashing out - others may wait 24 hours or more to begin processing your payment, and it could take a week or longer to arrive in your bank account.
Again, e-wallets and BTC are the fastest and best ways to pay and be paid.
Written by: Lars Jones