Betting

Tierce Betting Makes Solid Mobile Debut

The tierce, or trifecta, made its debut in Korean horse racing wagering this past weekend and this new bet type, the seventh to become available on all races in the country, made an immediate impact, despite the pool initially only being accessible through the KRA’s mobile betting application. 

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Tierce odds for one of the very first races to offer it last Friday at Jeju

By Sunday’s final race at Seoul, the Tierce was accounting for 4.3% of the total turnover, higher than Win, Place and Quinella Place pools. The Quinella remains the most popular pool with the Trio (first three in any order) a close second, followed by the Exacta. Overall turnover remained similar to the previous week. The fact that the Tierce will, for the time being, not be available to cash bettors, looks set to provide a major shot in the arm to mobile betting.

Mobile betting has had a predictably shaky start. Despite the name conjuring up images of people having a bet from home on their smartphones, like in a normal jurisdiction, this isn’t the case. Since the regulator ordered the closure of the “KNetz” telephone betting service in 2009 (essentially handing the monopoly in off-course betting to illegal operators), the Authority is only permitted to accept bets on course or at its OTBs. The App therefore can only be used when the device on which it is installed is connected to the”LetsRun Free” Wi-fi connection.

Despite heavy investment in what is a very impressive and user-friendly app (there will be a foreign language version) packed with information, as well as an excellent new lounge at Seoul especially for mobile betting, take-up has not been high and mobile turnover had been declining slightly since its launch. Since April, at least one simulcast race from Jeju Island on Fridays and Saturdays has been designated “mobile only” with no cash bets accepted, however, most punters have looked on those races as opportunities to take lunch or a coffee break.

It’s understandable that punters have resisted. With the regulator wanting all bets to be tracked and to eventually be linked to a bank account with a real name, in a country where gambling – despite being hugely popular – carries a major social stigma, it is seen by many as an unwelcome intrusion into privacy. It also prevents any circumventing of the rules on the maximum betting limit (which can easily be done simply by visiting more than one betting window or terminal before the race), something that is a challenge for both punters and no doubt the Authority alike.

However, the Tierce and its high dividends compared to Stake, is always going to be an attractive bet and it’s a pool that punters will want to play into. Eventually it will be expanded to cash betting too, most likely towards the end of this year. For now though, the signs are that it could be the game-changer that mobile betting has been seeking.

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Foreigner Only OTB Opens At Walkerhill In Seoul

The long-planned OTB exclusively for foreign customers has now been established at the Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel & Casino in Eastern Seoul. 

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The entrance to the Walkerhill CCC

The facility opened this month and has its own subsection on the KRA’s website here.

In addition to the three racecourses at Seoul, Busan and Jeju, the Korea Racing Authority already operates 30 off track betting centres across the country. Formerly called KRA Plazas, they were rebranded as LetsRun CCC in 2014 (CCC standing for Culture Convenience Center ). Along with the rebranding, a full scale renovation program has been rolled out across the branches, turning the majority into assigned seating  venues with various levels of pricing and comfort.

While this has significantly reduced attendance at some venues – such as Yongsan in Seoul which remains the scene of local resident and church group protests since its relocation – turnover has actually increased with the nicer environment being more conducive for betting.

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The general seating area at Walkerhill CCC prior to opening

Additionally, as the name suggests, further emphasis has been placed on the  community uses the facilities are put to on non-race days. However, one thing the OTBs, be they plazas or CCCs, have never been is especially welcoming towards foreign visitors; this blog has heard plenty of tales about curious foreign visitors and those simply wanting to have a bit of a punt, of being turned away by suspicious security guards.

Now no longer and most importantly, with it being a partnership with the Walkerhill, whose foreigner-only casino comes under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism rather than the Ministry of Agriculture.

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Private room at Walkerhill CCC

The facility is in the Walkerhill Hotel & Casino Complex at Achasan in eastern Seoul near Gwangnaru Station on subway line 5. It will be open on racedays for betting on racing from Seoul, Busan and Jeju. The CCC comprises a general seating area as well as private rooms and a cafeteria. Memberships are available. For more information see the website.

Maximum Stakes Race Field Size Rises To 16

There is a big change coming in Korean racing as the maximum number of horses that can take part in a race is set to rise to 16.

They'll need two more spaces for Stakes races

They’ll need two more spaces for Stakes races

For many years, no more than 14 runners could start in any one race, however, from 2013, that number has risen to 16 for Stakes races with the intention that from 2014, the new higher limit will apply in all races.

Punters are already using the new betting slips which can accommodate 16 runners in a race

Punters are already using the new betting slips which can accommodate 16 runners in a race

The Korea Racing Authority (KRA) has already introduced new betting slips in order to cope with the change and it is possible that next Sunday’s Ttukseom Cup at Seoul Race Park, the first leg of the “Queens’ Tour” series of races that will decide the Champion filly or mare of the year, will be the first opportunity for punters to see the new system in action.

There are still 18 entrants left in the Ttukseom Cup and while in previous years, this would need to be whittled down to 14, this time only 2 will be forced to miss out.

Field sizes in Korea are generally quite healthy. No race can have fewer than seven declared starters and the mean average number of runners is 11. It is very rare for Stakes races to have fewer than 10. The Authority hopes that the increase will result in more attractive pari-mutuel odds for punters as well as more opportunities for owners to enter Stakes events.