I’m a Bookie…Get Me Out of Here: Korea (That Would be South Korea)

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If you are a bookie in South Korea, you could face some pretty stiff prison time. 

While seen as a mostly progressive country, not so when it comes to gambling.

And South Korea is not afraid to make examples of those who engage in the illicit activity.

This week we are learning that former idol and a member of the group M2M, Jung Jin Woo, has been convicted and sentenced to a one year prison term on spending around KRW3.4 billion or US$3 million on betting via illegal gambling sites.

Before crying a tear for Woo, it has since been reported that he initially attempted to throw his own stepfather under the bus by claiming it was he who bet on the illegal websites.

Previously a Korean cosmetics boss had been convicted for gambling, not in South Korea proper, but overseas.

But how could this be?  After all, South Korea is home to some 17 casinos.

Sure, but those are for tourists only.  Only one, in Kangwon Land, is open to locals.

Online casinos operating from the region are widely believed to have ties to organized crime figures.

Sports betting, unlike casino games, is actually legal in the country.

Before 1997, all gambling in South Korea, with the exception of betting horse, boat and bicycle races was banned.  The introduction of SportsToto in 1997 now permits punters to place wagers on sporting events.  Their terminals are dispersed throughout the country now.

But once again, bookies will likely have some ties to organized crime outfits or otherwise be beholden to do so (for their own protection of course).

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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