Day: September 28, 2010

Electronic ID Card Trials Set To Begin

Punters’ Betting To Be Tracked

According to the National Gaming Control Commission (NGCC), 6.1% of Koreans are addicted to gambling. Also, the addiction rate among those who actually attend gambling establishments (i.e. the track and Gangwon Land Casino) is supposedly 61% (Gyongmaman is going to ask for a show of hands on the fourth floor next Saturday). Indeed, according to their criteria, your correspondent is among those in urgent need of help. It is on its way; in October, trials will begin of an Electronic ID card which the NGCC hope to make compulsory for all punters. The card will track every bet made by an individual.


All legal punters, that is. The move comes in a month where gambling has again been in the news with two high profile cases – one tragic, one mildly pathetic. In the first case, a man in Gangwon Province has been charged with murdering his wife and teenage son following a quarrel over his gambling debts. In the second, entertainer (and that word is used loosely) Shin Jung Hwan is on the run after allegedly running up big gambling debts in Cebu.

Falling foul of not just the loan-sharks, but also the law that makes it illegal for a Korean citizen to gamble even while overseas, Shin can’t return to Korea for fear of being arrested. Shin claimed that in fact, he hadn’t been gambling but had instead contracted dengue fever and a picture purportedly showing him in hospital in the Phillippines was promptly uploaded to his website. However, KBS TV – until recently one of his employers – went to the hospital in question and found that he had been given a clean bill of health. Shin is now reportedly recovering from whatever ails him in Macau. He probably won’t catch Dengue fever there.

Of course, while it is insensitive in the extreme to compare the two cases, both have brought the spotlight back on the issue of gambling. Likewise, in neither of the two cases was the alleged gambling debt run up by legal means. However, it is the legal outlet of racing that is going to bear the brunt of regulation.

Initially the ID card trial is going to involve two sets of subjects. The first group are going to be anonymous – their personal details will not be known, the card will simply track their betting. The second set – and you can be sure that this is the one which will get the final go-ahead – will include punters’ personal information.

Will it have any effect? Perhaps, but while having to produce an ID card imay decrease the practice of “window-hopping” whereby to get round the maximum bet of 100,000 won, a bettor goes to several windows or machines before a race, placing the maximum bet each time, those kinds of punter are generally well aware of the various non-legal options open to them.

Gyongmaman was looking forward to getting his card, however, he remembered it probably won’t apply to him. For the Korean government has a very different approach to non-Koreans gambling as demonstrated by this wonderful quote about the use of credit cards in casinos, which is always worth another airing:

“Currently foreign tourists are able to buy chips only with cash…Government officials said this has discouraged non-Koreans from gambling here adding if visitors were allowed to purchase chips with plastic, they would spend more money”.
(Korea Times, September 2009)