Police authorities in South Korea uncovered a crime ring that has been running illegal gambling sites in the country for the past four years. The websites targeted primarily foreign nationals living in the country, despite online gambling being illegal under South Korean law. The group operated from within the South Chungcheong Province and has been catering to foreign online gamblers since 2018.
The provincial police caught 17 individuals but detained only 11 of them. It became clear the mastermind behind the illegal operations was of Thai nationality but resided legally in South Korea. The criminal organization operated four illicit gambling sites from several offices throughout the province.
The group had devised an elaborate scheme to avoid detection by the local authorities. The illegal websites were not broadly accessible but rather required special access. According to the local police force, the gang had set up as many as 26 gambling accounts throughout the last half a year.
The organization earned approximately ₩120 billion ($91.98 million) from its illegal operations during the past four years. However, local authorities believe the group’s profits could exceed this amount. The busted websites have been running for quite a while and likely account for a small portion of the illegal action. The local police forces expect to uncover other similar operations outside the South Chungcheong Province.
Foreigners Can Gamble Legally Only In-Person
Foreign nationals can legally participate in certain landbased forms of gambling in South Korea. However, many prefer to gamble illegally over the internet as this enables them to conceal how much they bet and win. The organized group apparently was well-aware of this as it provided special access to its illegal services to foreigners seeking to gamble online.
Another tactic the criminals adopted was to lure foreign students and workers into gambling by promising them quick and substantial winnings. Members of the gang had no reason to worry about potential exposure. International students and employees were unlikely to submit official complaints against the group because they could be expelled from the country for illegal gambling participation.
South Korean authorities revealed the illicit organization employed a whopping 7,300 individuals, tasked with operating and servicing the four gambling sites. When the criminals smelled danger, they would move their offices from one location to another to avoid detection and arrest.
South Korea has some of the strictest gambling laws in the world. The legal access to in-person gambling is mostly restricted to foreign nationals. There is only one landbased venue in the entire country where residents can legally participate in gambling.
However, the casino in question is situated in a far-off area that is difficult to access. South Korean legislation imposes a blanket ban on all forms of remote gambling. The local government has made no steps toward online gambling legalization.