Betting in Seoul

Published: 22/04/2013

The word “Seoul” actually means “Capital City” in Korean, befitting its role as the capital of South Korea. The city may have been founded on the north bank of the Han River in 18 BCE, but it is only since the end of the Korean War in 1953 that it has grown into a megacity, with its population exceeding 10 million residents.

Among the many superlatives that draw visitors to Seoul are the world’s largest indoor theme park, Lotte World; the world’s longest bridge fountain, Moonlight Rainbow Fountain; and the world’s largest cinema screen, Times Square’s CGV Starium. The city is surrounded by mountains, the tallest of which is Mt. Bukhan, situated within the world’s most visited national park. Worthy of note, more than 10 million international visitors came to Seoul in 2012.

For many years, the first and only legal gambling venue in the entire country was attached to the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill resort, established in 1963 on the far east edge of the city along the banks of the Han River. From the very beginning, gambling was restricted to passport-carrying non-Koreans, as casino gaming was viewed as a source of foreign currency revenue and not as a form of local entertainment.

Although the 623-room Sheraton Grande celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, some time ago its interest in the casino was sold to the Paradise Group, which refurbished the property and renamed it the Paradise Walkerhill Casino. Today, the gaming space is open 24/7, featuring 160 gaming machines, a Keno lounge and 79 table games, including American Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack and Tai Sai. Table minimum bets start at 10,000 Korean Won. Other facilities available on the property range from a jogging course, tennis courts, a health club and a golf driving range to ten restaurants and bars.

A more recent entrant into the Seoul gambling scene is Grand Korea Leisure (GKL), a subsidiary of the Korea Tourism Organization, which has managed the “Seven Luck Casino” brand since its establishment in 2004. Within two years after its founding, GKL opened two gaming in downtown Seoul, taking full advantage of the government’s issuance of new permits for “foreigners-exclusive casinos.”

The first property called the Seven Luck Casino Seoul Gangnam was created inside the Convention Annex Building in Gangnam-gu. It underwent an expansion in 2009 so that today the gaming area covers 65,000 square feet, containing 119 gaming machines and 71 table games, from Roulette, Baccarat and Tai Sai to Caribbean Stud Poker. A restaurant serving Chinese, Japanese, American and Korean cuisines is also located on the premises, along with a full-service cocktail bar for beverages.

The second property in Seoul developed by GKL was the Seven Luck Casino at the Millennium Hilton. Most recently renovated in 2010, the casino’s 29,998-square-foot gaming area has 142 gaming machines and 55 table games, including Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Tai Sai, Caribbean Stud Poker, Three Card Poker and Casino War. Among other facilities available here are eight restaurants serving international cuisine, a fitness center, a 25-metre pool, a spa and a driving range. The hotel also offers 679 guestrooms and 30 suites featuring marble bathrooms and high-speed Internet access.

Horseracing fans are in luck when they come to Seoul, too. In 1983, the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) was commissioned to construct the Equestrian Park for the 1988 Summer Olympics. A year after the successful hosting of the Olympic equestrian competitions, the Park was converted into the Seoul Race Park in for thoroughbred flat races. It is located in Gwacheon-dong to the south of the city between Local Route 309 and National Highway 1.

With two concentric oval tracks measuring 1,800 metres and 1,600 metres, the Seoul Racecourse is open from 11am till close on race days. The surface is sand and there two grandstands that can accommodate up to 77,000 visitors. The facility features its own Race Book, operated exclusively by the KRA, providing six betting types: win, place, quinella, exacta, quinella place and trio. Betting limits are 100 Korean Won minimum and 100,000 Korean Won per single bet maximum. Tickets are distributed through betting terminals, both on- and off-course, which are controlled by the Pari-Mutuel Betting Control Center at Seoul Race Park.

Published on: 22/04/2013

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