South Korea Legalises Online Betting For Horseracing

May 30, 2023
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In an effort to recover from pandemic damage to its racing industry, South Korea’s National Assembly has amended legislation to permit online betting on horseracing.

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In an effort to recover from pandemic damage to its racing industry, South Korea’s National Assembly has amended legislation to permit online betting on horseracing.

A plenary session of the National Assembly on Thursday (May 25) passed an amendment to the Horse Racing Association Act that opens online horseracing betting to persons over the age of 21.

A Korean Racing Association (KRA) pilot scheme for the new system is scheduled for the second half of this year ahead of full implementation in the second half of 2024.

Lawmakers added several measures to mitigate problem gambling, including mandatory in-person registration at a racecourse to open an online account and a reduction in the number of wagering retail stations.

Local media also reported that bets on individual races could be capped at 50,000 won ($38) per race and at five races per meet, with additional restrictions potentially applying to overall ticket volume.

Legalisation of online betting for horseracing in South Korea has been mooted for years, but government concern over problem gambling had stymied vigorous industry support for the initiative.

However, the disastrous impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Korea’s horseracing industry, with racecourses closed for months at the peak of virus transmission, dissolved the government’s opposition.

KRA losses mounted to as much as 12.6trn won ($9.5bn) over the years of disruption, with cascading impacts on breeders, support services and thousands of employees, as well as a significant loss in tax revenue.

Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Yoon Jae-gap, one of the bill’s backers, said on Thursday that the new system “will provide an opportunity for horse breeding farms and the domestic horseracing industry to normalise and grow after being severely damaged by COVID-19”.

“We will do our very best to provide legal and institutional support,” he said.

Another supporter of the bill, People Power Party lawmaker Chung Woon-chun, said: “I am delighted that we can now … protect horseracing and horse industry workers from disasters such as COVID-19 and guarantee their rights and interests.

“Funds for industry development can also now grow, contributing to the development of the breeding industry, and we expect it will play a positive fiscal role by stabilising taxes such as the special tax for rural areas and the leisure tax.”

A legislative review subcommittee approved the amendments to the law in February, all but ensuring passage last week.

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