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Online Betting Regulations in China and South Korea

The development of technology and widespread access to high-speed internet across Asia has seen gambling trends shift towards online markets with customers demanding the convenience of mobile sites.

The Asia Pacific gambling market is projected to rise from the 2022 figure of $19.5 billion by 11.39% a year before reaching $37.5 billion in 2028.

Despite these projections, the legality of gambling across many Asian countries affects access to citizens who often take advantage of offshore betting sites to circumvent regulations.

Chinese and South Korean gambling regulations are relatively strict and can cause some confusion.

Online Betting Regulations in South Korea

While gambling is mostly illegal in China, its people don’t tend to have an issue with it. In South Korea, the cultural attitude towards gambling is that it is morally wrong. However, it is still extremely popular with many South Koreans enjoying betting on baseball, football, and eSports.

The country allows some forms of in-person betting, including lotteries, race betting, and sports betting. There are no online betting sites licensed in Korea, however, there are no rules restricting online betting toto sites operating overseas. However, although it is difficult to regulate overseas toto sites, domestic players’ use of gambling platforms is legally regulated (source:

Despite the country having a selection of land-based casinos, only the Kangwon Casino is allowed to let South Korean citizens gamble at it. The other casinos are purely for foreign visitors to enjoy.

Online Betting Regulations in China 

China is one of the most populated countries in the world with almost 1.5 billion people living there. Despite the potential for making vast amounts in taxation and licensing, gambling has been illegal in the country since 1949.

The Chinese criminal code prohibits gambling and only permits two government-run lotteries. The Sports Lottery has been running since 1994 and the Welfare Lottery since 1987.

Attempts to legalise physical and digital casinos in recent years have been turned down by the Chinese government and online poker apps were officially banned in 2018.

Despite the widespread banning of gambling activities in mainland China, Chinese territories including Hong Kong and Macau permit betting. Hong Kong was under British rule until 1997 and betting regulations have been in place since 1977. Most of the betting in this region is overseen by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Macau has legalised gambling since the 1850s and has even overtaken Las Vegas as the biggest gambling hub in the world

Offshore gambling has also gained popularity among those in mainland China who have access to VPNs to bet on various markets, including casino games and sports betting.

The Economic Impact of Betting in China and South Korea

The Chinese online gambling revenue was recorded at $9.9 billion for 2022, with much of this being lost to offshore betting sites in neighbouring countries.

South Korea faces similar problems with many people making the most of offshore betting markets that aren’t regulated, licensed, or taxed by the government. 

In terms of land-based casinos, the revenue taken in by South Korean casinos in 2022 was $1.47 billion. This figure would undoubtedly rise significantly if locals were permitted to bet across all casinos. This lucrative revenue stream on limited in-person betting venues across South Korea further illustrates the potential for relaxed rules surrounding casino and online betting.

The Future of Betting in China and South Korea

The continuing success of Macau’s casinos and revenue generated from South Korean casinos should see governments step up and make changes to existing regulations.

As technology develops, the global betting community is finding easier ways to offer state-of-the-art betting experiences to customers. Embracing these changes will provide the Chinese and South Korean governments with the opportunity to benefit financially and regulate operations as they see fit.

Featured image: Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

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