Pressure for online betting in Korea as racing nears collapse after shutdown

Horse Racing Korea push for online betting
Seoul racecourse: racing has resumed in Korea – but betting hasn’t. Photo: KRA

By Jon Lees

South Korea: A group of lawmakers in South Korea have submitted a bill that could throw a financial lifeline to horse racing by allowing online betting for the first time.

The sport has been brought to near-collapse after undergoing one of the longest shutdowns of any racing jurisdiction. Racing ceased from February to June as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Racing in Seoul, Busan and Jeju has resumed behind closed doors but, unlike in Japan and Hong Kong, there has been no betting because wagers are only allowed to be taken in person at a racecourse or an off-track facility, which have stayed closed to customers.

Derby-winning British jockey Alan Munro has called for the sport in South Korea to join nearly every other racing jurisdiction by introducing online betting.

Now a group led by Representative Kim Seung-nam, of the ruling Democratic Party, have proposed a partial amendment to the Korean Horse Racing Act to legalise online wagering. If it is successful, online betting could be in place early next year.

Racing contributes substantial tax revenues from betting and it has been estimated that 751.7bn Korean Won (£477 million) has been lost this year up to the end of August.

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