South Korea Grants Approval for Online Betting in Horse Racing Revolution

The National Assembly has passed an amendment on May 25 which now allows individuals aged 21 and above to participate in online horse racing betting. To ensure responsible gambling practices, the legislation incorporates various measures such as mandatory in-person registration at a racecourse for opening an online betting account and a reduction in the number of physical wagering stations. Additional restrictions have been set in place, including capping individual race bets at 50,000 won ($38), with a maximum of five races per meet. The government is also considering implementing further limitations on overall ticket volume to maintain a balanced gambling environment. The legalisation of online betting for horse racing has been a topic of discussion in South Korea for years, but it was only after the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Korea’s horseracing sector that the government reconsidered its stance.

The Korean Racing Association (KRA) is experiencing unprecedented losses of 12.6 trillion won ($9.5 billion) due to pandemic-related disruptions. This has negatively impacted breeders, support services, employees, and tax revenue. To revive the industry, online betting is now being legalized, which will be implemented in a pilot scheme starting in the second half of 2021 and expected to be fully implemented by the latter half of 2024.

Yoon Jae-gap, a Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker who supported the bill, believes the new system will help the domestic horseracing industry and horse breeding farms recover from the effects of COVID-19. The government is committed to providing legal and institutional support to achieve this goal.

People Power Party lawmaker Chung Woon-chun expressed his satisfaction with the passage of the bill, which aims to protect horseracing and horse industry workers from disasters like COVID-19 and guarantee their rights and interests. He also highlighted the potential for industry development and its positive fiscal impact, with funds for industry development contributing to the breeding industry’s growth and stabilizing taxes like special tax for rural areas and leisure tax.

The amendments to the law had received approval from a legislative review subcommittee in February, making last week’s passage almost certain. This legislative progress signifies a significant step forward in the implementation of the new system, bringing much-needed support and hope to the struggling horseracing industry in South Korea.

Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Yoon Jae-gap, a proponent of the bill, emphasized that the new system will provide an opportunity for horse breeding farms and the domestic horseracing industry to normalize and grow after being severely damaged by COVID-19. He also declared a commitment to provide legal and institutional support to the industry.

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