3. The Laws and Types of Sports Betting in Korea

“Gambling in the Republic of Korea”

Horse Racing is the longest standing form of legal gambling in the Republic of Korea. Pari-mutuel betting on the sport began here in 1923 administered by the Korean Racing Authority (KRA) and this is still intact today. While the six offered wagering options win, place, quinella, exacta, quinella place, and trio are similar to found elsewhere around the world, Korean horse race betting is sadly nothing like horse race betting anywhere else.

The first major difference is the maximum bet is ₩100,000 (~92 USD). This is however a good thing if you understand gambling odds. I say this because the taxes range from 73% to 80% and the profit to the KRA ranges from 4% to 11% in each pool. No matter if you make straight or exotic bets, only 16% of the pool is paid back to gamblers. While there are some decent tracks in Korea you can read about in English here this has such poor value it does not really make sense to bet Korean races.

It would be much wiser to instead bet Australian horse racing online. www.bet365.com offers fixed odds betting plus a best odds guarantee. You can select two major Australian totes and if the dividend comes in higher you are paid the higher price. Understand these totes pay 84.5% of the pool as opposed to Korean racing which pays 16%. Betting local races is one thing but when the odds are that much different, it makes sense to change interests to international races.

Lottery in South Korea

Lottery has a long history in South Korea. The first legal lottery here was introduced in 1969 called the House Lotto (Jutaekbokgwon) which ran for over two decades. In 1990, Korean Instant Lottery Scratch Cards were introduced. In 2002, our now popular 6/45 online lottery was launched. This is explained below.

South Korea 6/45 Lottery

520-bok-kwon-1The Korean 6/45 lottery has 45 balls numbered 1-45 of which seven are drawn. The betting tickets involve selecting only six numbers. The seventh number drawn is an extra number. This is a once a week draw costing ₩1,000 per ticket that is held on Saturday evenings.

Even if you can’t read Korean you should be able to figure out how to use the official 6/45 Lotto Results. On the list (from lottorich website) of previous results the third to last column shows how many first place winners there were that week, and the second to last column shows how many second place winners there are. The lottery is averaging 6.96 first place winners and 39.59 second place winners per draw.

6/45 Jackpot Prizes

  • First Place Prize: This is for those who match all six numbers correctly. In a recent draw with 8 winners this paid ₩1,785,671,579 to each.
  • Second Place Prize: This is matching 5 numbers plus the extra number. In a recent draw with 44 winners each received ₩54,111,260.
  • Third Place: This is five of six correct with no match on the extra number. This is also a pool split with winners. In a recent draw where there were 1,517 winners each received ₩1,569,477.
  • Fourth Place: This is matching 4 of 6 and pays a fixed-odds prize of ₩50,000.
  • Fifth Place Prize: This is matching 3 of 6 correct and pays a fixed-odds prize of ₩5,000.

Note: 22% tax is owed on prizes up to 50 million, and 33% is owed on prizes over 50 million.

Pension Lottery 520 (연금복권520)

Quickly growing in popularity is the Pension 520 Lottery – commonly called Bok-Kwon. This new lottery was introduced in July 2011 and is drawn every Wednesday. Tickets cost the same ₩1,000 as our main lottery but there is a major difference. This lottery uses preprinted tickets. 6,300,000 million tickets are issued each week and they generally sell out in the first 4 days. The image below shows what a ticket looks like.


This lottery has fixed odds and the top prize is ₩1.2 billion paid as ₩5 million per month for 20 years. Also there is a special feature in that the tax rate is always 22%, never the 33% higher tier. There are other prizes to be won which is covered in Wikipedia entry: 연금복권520.

Bicycle and Boat Racing in South Korea

In 1994, a new law on Cycle Racing & Boat Racing was established. This was modeled after legal betting in Japan. It was instituted for the purpose of raising funds for national sports promotion, supporting youth fostering projects for wholesome future for youths, expanding national & regional finances, and providing healthy relaxation and leisure for people.

The major difference between Korea and Japan is you can only bet the tote at the tracks in Korea. Although it offers better payouts than horse racing, this is not a very popular gambling option among foreigners. The betting programs, websites, and betting slips are only in Korean. As there is no online betting comparison for these sports I will just note www.kboat.or.kr and www.kcycle.or.kr are the websites Koreans can visit to learn more.

South Korea Casinos

We have 16 casinos that are for tourists only. These require showing a foreign passport to enter and South Koreans, Nepalese, and Vietnamese are not allowed on the premises unless employed. The single casino allowing South Koreans to gambling is Kangwon Land Resort & Casino. This is located in Jeongseongun County which is in our furthest northeast province Gangwon-do.

The government approved gambling here for two reasons. The first is that this was a distressed former war torn area. Allowing a Korean friendly casino was a way for their economy to recover. The second reason was to allow gambling for social and relaxation purposes. As the location was not easy to access and is barely drivable from Seoul it was thought this would prevent the working class from taking overnight or weekend trips.

Of course, as the saying goes “if you build it; they will come”. Today there are high powered bullet taxis to get gamblers from the center of our nation’s capital to Kangwon Land Resort & Casino in about 3-hours’ time. More than 10,000 Koreans visit here per day most waiting hours just to get a table. If you come in a group of five foreigners, it is possible to reserve a table in advanced.

This is a great location for tourism with plenty to do in this area – Click here for details. Still if you’re looking to just play casino anytime on demand it is hard to beat internet gambling.

www.bodog88.com has Korean language support, and offers live dealer games. These are games that are broadcast from a dealer studio that is set up just like a land based casino. You can bet Baccarat, Roulette, Blackjack and Sic-Bo from your computer while interacting with the dealer. The game then happens via live stream. They have machine based gambling too such as slots and video poker. Again, this is a much more convenient option for casual gambling that involves no travel.

Sports Betting in South Korea

As mentioned in South Korea there are two legal ways to bet football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, golf and Ssirum. These options are Sports Toto (pari-mutuel betting) and Sports Proto (fixed odds betting). These are explained below.

Sports Toto

In Sports Toto the money players wager goes into a pool. 50% of it is kept by Sports Toto to go towards duty, operation costs, and their profit margins. The remaining 50% is paid to those who get all their wagers 100% correct. The games available are as follows.

Toto Soccer – For soccer (football) there are 3 different games offered.

  • 1X2 Game – Choose home, away or draw in 14 soccer matches.
  • Correct Score Game – Predict the correct score of 2 or 3 matches.
  • Single Match – Predict the final first-half score, and final match score in a single match

Basketball Toto – Basketball also offers three Sports Toto games.

  • Win/5/Loss Game -For 14 matches choose between Home by 6+ points, Either team to win by 5 or less point, or Away to win by 6+ points.
  • Correct Score -Predict the correct score margin in 2 or 3 matches.
  • Single Match – Predict the first half and final score margins of a single game.

Baseball Toto – For baseball there are four different games offered.

  • Run and Run – In 4 matches predict the number of home runs and final score of each team.
  • Trebles – predict the winner of 3 baseball games
  • Ranking – this betting slips has several teams and you select which 3 will have the highest score.
  • Single Match – Predict the number of home rules, strike outs and total runs for each team in a single match.

Volleyball Toto – In volleyball we have only a single game that is popular. This pairs two matches together and you make 4 wagers between the two. This is 1) correct set score, and 2) margin of victory in the first set (2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7+) for both games.

Golf Toto – In golf we have a game for predicting the first round score of 5 players and another of the same for 7 players. We also have a head to head game where players are matched together (5 matches of 2 players head to head) were you can select win lose or draw. The final game offered sees one player matched up against 11 others. For all 11 match ups you select if he will win, draw or lose.

What I just covered are the main games of Sports Toto, but there are others. For example right now there is an extra issue game called TOTO OX. This is for raising funds for upcoming sports events such as 2014 Incheon Asian Games, F1 Korean Grands Prix, and others. This involves predicting the correct score in a combo of soccer, basketball, and baseball matches listed on the same card.

Sports Toto for sure has its place with recreational gamblers as the payouts can be very large and it offers some correlated betting propositions that cannot be found together online. A comparison report would be a detailed project as in some areas Toto is better and in other areas betting accumulators online is better. You can always compare options with each side by side and then decide which is best.

Sports Proto

Sports Proto is fixed odds betting. Here the odds for each wager are quoted in decimal format. A winning wager pays stake times odds. If you stake ₩50,000 on odds 1.75 and win you get ₩50,000*1.75=₩87,500 – in this example the profit is ₩37,500. This carries forward by combining single wager into multiple bets. Unlike Sports Toto, this form of betting almost never offers better odds than can be found online. Let me show you some random examples using just basketball where I compare Sports Proto odds to the odds offered by Bet365.

NBA Basketball – For this I compare the point spreads in NBA match between Toronto Raptors (home team) vs. Washington Wizards (away team) using the point spread. The odds were:

Sports Porto – Home -5.5 points 1.66 Away +5.5 points 1.74

Bet365.com – Home -5.5 points 1.91 Away +5.5 points 1.91

KBL Basketball – For this I compare a match between Anyang KGC (home team) vs Seoul Knights (away team) that involved a point spread.

Sports Porto – Home +5.5 points 1.79 Away -5.5 points 1.62

Bet365.com – Home +5.5 points 1.94 Away -5.5 points 1.82

WKBL Basketball – For this I compare a playoff match between Yongin Samsung Life Blueminx (home team) vs Guri KDB Life Winnus (away team). The odds were as follows.

Sports Porto – Home 1.66 Away 1.74

Bet365.com – Home 1.91 Away 1.91

If you compare soccer, volleyball and baseball too – you’ll find the same holds true more than 99% of the time. The online bookmakers operate with much lower profit margins and therefore pay more on each and every wining bet.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see we have many forms of legal gambling in South Korea. While online betting is technically not approved, I have never heard of anyone arrested or fined for using betting sites that are legal and licensed in other countries from the comfort of their own home. I have heard of this when dealing with agents and local illegal bookmakers, which is why it is smart to stick to major companies such as www.bet365.com which is licensed in the United Kingdom.

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