Arriving early at Seoul Race Park on Saturday morning, Gyongmaman was surprised to be accosted by KRA officials outside the Foreigner Lounge on the fourth floor of the Luckyville grandstand. Nursing a hangover and fearing that last Monday’s article about the Karaoke expense claims had hit a little too close to the mark, Gyongmaman broke into a sweat and started looking for the exit.
It transpired that they wanted him to try out a new English language betting terminal. The fourth floor of both grandstands at Seoul (and most of Busan) is entirely automated with machines instead of tellers at all the betting windows. Gyongmaman doesn’t like this – if he’s watching from the fourth floor, he always goes down to the third to bet with one of the armada of women (they are all women) staffing the regular betting windows whom the KRA is hoping to replace with the soulless – and non wage demanding – machines.
Naturally, in the face of officaldom, Gyongmaman was suitably gushing about the brilliance of the proposed new machines. And in fariness, they look very promising. Currently the machines only have Korean instructions and though easy to use, they can deter first-timers. Not only will the new machines accept bets, they will also provide searchable information on the racecard and give results from all three tracks.
End of writing in the third-person. The “Foreigner Lounge” at Seoul Race Park is located on the fourth floor of the Luckyville grandstand and looks out over the furlong marker. With a capacity of approximately 120, it provides an English Language Race Program and “how to” leaflets and once you sign in on arrival, you have a reserved seat for the rest of the day (first come, first served). English and Japanese speaking staff are also on hand to assist. While quiet on Saturdays, it tends to get very busy on summer Sundays and no visitor to the track should spend all their time in there – there’s so much else to see, but it is an extremely useful facility.
One final question the officials had was how could the betting process be made easier for overseas visitors. In truth, betting at the track in Korea is as simple and logical as it could possibly be. The only imprevements that could be made are ones that the regulator won’t allow the KRA to do. But that is another story.