South Korea is preparing to crack down on illegal online sports betting operators serving its country’s punters, following recent match fixing allegations involving Korean Basketball League coaches and players. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently held a joint conference with the National Police Agency, the National Gambling Control Commission and the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) in a bid to coordinate enforcement measures against sports betting operators. The Global Post reports that a joint council will be formed by the end of the month to establish a “nationwide response system” to deal with the perceived problem.
South Korean gamblers’ legal sports betting options are limited to the state-sponsored Sports Toto lottery, which offers rudimentary betting with a maximum wager of KRW 100k (US $89) per ticket. There are Sports Toto terminals scattered throughout the country but the company has no online presence. Meanwhile, there are a multitude of online sites offering South Korean punters the convenience of wagering from home, much higher betting limits and a far greater variety of wagering options, including in-play and prop wagers.
It’s those last options that really irk the South Korean government, as they’re the alleged source of the most recent match-fixing scandal. As such, the Ministry intends to start cracking down on illegally operating sites – whether they offer sports betting or any other unapproved form of gambling – beginning in April. The KCC intends to (a) double the number of online monitoring personnel and (b) reduce the current 10-day review period required to shut down an illegal website. To prove they’re not entirely heartless, the Ministry is contemplating reducing penalties facing illegal operators, provided they turn themselves in before the crackdown begins. The Ministry claims its last crackdown in 2012 resulted in over 2k arrests, so best turn yourself in now while there’s no queue.