The South Korean police busted an intricate scheme of illegal online gambling websites that have been operating for years catering to the gambling cravings of foreigners in a country where online gambling is banned.
11 People Were Arrested
Initially, the South Chungcheong Province police captured 17 people but only 11 were arrested. Allegedly these individuals participated in illegal gambling operations running since 2018. It turned out that the head of the group is a Thailand national who lives legally in South Korea.
The organized group had offices around the South Chungcheong Province from which they managed four different gambling websites. The police raided these offices one at a time. The illegal web pages operated by the gang required special access and were not widely available in this way keeping the illegal gambling under the South Korean authorities’ radar. The police reported that the organized group has been using 26 different gambling accounts just during the last six months.
During the four years when the websites were in operation, they collected winnings of about SKW 120 billion ($92.12 million). However, as the operations have been going on for a while, it is very likely that this is only just a small part of the massive illegal action.
The police expect to uncover more such operations across the country.
Illegal Gambling Keeps the Money Off the Record
There are various options for in-person gambling for foreigners in South Korea but illegal online gambling gives the opportunity to hide away the cash that people wager and win. The illegal websites took advantage of this and offered special access to the gambling websites to foreign nationals looking for such services. The gang was also active in attracting foreign customers such as international students and employees enticing them with the promise of huge winnings as such individuals risk being expelled from South Korea if they file an official complaint.
About 7,300 people worked for the four websites located in various offices across the province and other locations in South Korea. Sometimes the gang closed the offices and moved them to another location in order to escape the police and remain uncovered.
Gambling in South Korea
In-person gambling in South Korea is available mainly to foreigners. South Koreans are allowed to gamble only in one casino in the whole country, which is located in a remote hard-to-access area. Online gambling is banned altogether.
In general, gambling has a very bad reputation in South Korean society. It is viewed as something very harmful to the people that practice it. This is the major reason why the government has not made any steps toward legalizing it.