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Complete Guide to Gambling in South Korea

Despite appearances and legal hurdles, Korea is a huge gambling country, but only if you know where to find it. Check out gambling, poker, and casinos in Seoul

Korean Girl Casino Dealers
Welcome to Korean casinos!

Life in South Korea as a foreigner is one of the most interesting adventures you’ll ever have. From the moment you first arrive, finding out “how Koreans do things” is an endless adventure. Later, we will be exploring interesting subjects such as food, nightlife, relationships, work, and family. 

But in this series of articles, we’ll be learning about one of the oldest vices in the world and how Koreans do it. I will be guiding you on this journal from a first-person perspective.

Is Gambling Legal in South Korea?

Yes, gambling in South Korea is legal. Simple question, simple answer.

The most important fact you must know upfront is that Korea takes a very unfavorable view of gambling. This is most easily seen by the fact that Korea differentiates between its citizens and foreigners when it comes to gambling or online gambling. 

Can Koreans Gamble?

How so? Koreans cannot gamble at casinos — with one exception I’ll mention later. Do not underestimate this because this shapes the entire gambling culture here.

Walkerhill Casino Seoul, Korea
The best place to play poker in Korea, which is also the most expensive rake

South Korean citizens cannot even gamble at casinos even when traveling abroadThis jaw-dropping overreach is not limited only to gambling either. For example, South Koreans also cannot do any drugs such as marijuana when traveling even if it is legal in that country. The punishments are severe as well. South Koreans face up to 3 years in prison if caught at a casino abroad.

Yet, gambling finds a way. And there are a whole bunch of options for those who are inclined to partake in games of chance.

Both South Koreans and expats are able to engage in many forms of bet-based gambling. These include horse racing, boat racing, dog racing, lotteries, and many forms of scratch tickets. For example, one of the most popular gambling venues for Koreans is Seoul Race Park, which is a 40,000 seat gambling track about 20 km south of Seoul.

Seoul has even come to host premier events such as the Asian Poker Tour, which is often hosted at a major casino in Seoul (see my casino reviews).

Why are Gambling Laws in South Korea so Strict?

It’s not hard to see why the Korean government has prohibited its citizens from gambling at casinos. It’s well known that Asians have a propensity towards luck and gambling, driven largely by a cultural belief in luck and fortune.

For those of you reading who have ever been in a casino located in a tourist location, you know what I’m talking about. Asians love gambling!

underground poker seoul korea
There’s plenty of underground poker rooms in Seoul

Everything You Need to Know about Gambling in Korea

As I detail below, despite the Korean government’s desperate measures to stem gambling here, there is NO stopping Koreans from gambling. Simply put, it’s EVERYWHERE in Seoul despite being illegal. 

In Korea, “illegal” is often just a suggestion. 

Best Casinos in Seoul

The following reviews and information are based on my personal experience, of which I have far too much.

Millennium Seoul Hilton Seven Luck Casino | Seoul

Seven Luck Casino Millennium Hilton

Located by Seoul Station, Namsan Market, and Namdaemun Market, the Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel & Seven Luck Casino is the oldest but most popular casino in Seoul.

It is also one of the smallest and caters to a more “common” clientele, as it is the easiest to access for tourists staying all around the central Seoul area.

As a result, Seven Luck Casino Millennium Hilton is usually packed. It features baccarat, slots, and roulette as its staple games, with blackjack, war, 3-card poker, and Caribbean Hold’em Poker occupying a lesser capacity.

Does Seven Luck Seoul Hilton have Texas Hold’em Poker?

There is no Texas Hold’em poker at Seven Luck Millennium Hilton Casino.

By the way, this game distribution is the same all throughout Korean casinos. It may be due to legal restrictions but most likely due to the fact that Asians love baccarat, whereas slots and roulette are very tourist, lady-friendly games.

For amenities, the restaurant is small and not that good. Certainly worse than Paradise Walkerhill.

Gangnam COEX Seven Luck Casino | Seoul

Seven Luck Casino COEX

The newest addition to the Seoul Casino scene is Seven Luck Casino COEX. It is a part of the massive COEX exhibition hall, Starfield shopping mall, and Intercontinental (COEX and GRAND) complex. Seriously, COEX as a term takes up an entire small city outside Samseong (삼성) subway station.

COEX Seven Luck is an exception in that it is not attached to a hotel. Instead, it has a back entrance that opens into Starfield COEX mall and of course a front entrance as shown.

It is the newest and “nicest” of the Seoul casinos. Nice is somewhat objective but it is new, clean, and usually not ever crowded. Its game distribution is exactly the same as its sister casino up north. Some of the minimum betting limits used to be higher due to it being located in Gangnam, but last time I checked (a few months ago), Millennium Hilton Seven Luck had raised its limits as well.

Does COEX Seven Luck have Texas Hold’em Poker?

Seven Luck COEX casino does have Texas Hold’em poker. So this should be good news for anyone staying around Gangnam. The bad news is that the game is minimum 2,000/5,000 KRW with 15,000 won / 10% max rake. Also, the game is not as lively or as popular as the one at Paradise Walkerhill, which is located not too far from Gangnam itself.

My advice, just take the trip to Paradise Walkerhill.

Paradise Casino Walkerhill | Seoul

Walkerhill Casino Seoul, Korea

The jewel casino of Seoul, although that’s not saying much.

Paradise Casino Walkerhill is the best casino in Seoul by far and most closely resembles a Las Vegas or Western casino experience. It is located far away from any subway station, with the closest being Gangbyeon (강변) station (there is a free shuttle bus located outside exit 1 of the subway station. Exit 1, turn left, go past the food stands. Go across the street. Across from Technomart is a shuttle bus stop).

You then take a 10-15 min shuttle bus ride to the top of a mountain, where Sheraton Walkerhill dual hotels are (really, there’s a Sheraton and Walkerhill together).

The casino resembles a Westernized experience and is by far the biggest. It also has waitresses in fishnet stockings, which is allowed because it is privately owned-Seven Luck is owned and operated by the government. Check out the post below for a nice video of dancing gogo girls at the casino.

The game distribution is mostly the same as at the Seven Luck casinos, with a few small exceptions like big wheel spin game. The most notable exception is poker.

Does Walkerhill Paradise Casino have Texas Hold’em Poker?

Walkerhill Paradise Casino does have Texas Hold’em poker.

This is the oldest and most popular legal game in town. Lots of regs, degens, and tourists. The typical game is 1,000/3000 KRW (used to be 1,000/2,000) but 2,000/5,000 is a regular game almost every night and certainly on weekends. They also run tournaments every weekend (usually, 100k-300k buy-in. There’s also a monthly big stack poker tournament with 10 m KRW guaranteed prize pool).

The dealers are by far the most competent here, as they do ensure quality. I’ve been going for close to 10 years and all of the pit bosses in the poker room are former dealers.

If you’re a gambler looking to visit or travel to Seoul, I hope you can find what you’re looking for on this page or some of my other links!

Casinos in Incheon and Busan

If you’re planning to travel around South Korea and want to check out other casinos, you might be surprised to find that Korea has 18 total casinos spread throughout the country. You will find some major differences in clientele (Jeju casinos are heavily Chinese).

Paradise City Casino | Incheon

Entrance of Paradise City Casino Incheon Korea

Paradise City Casino in Incheon is located right next to Incheon International Airport. Built just a few years ago to promote tourism, it is the largest and most decadent casino in Korea. It’s also convenient for travelers and layovers. Lots of Chinese here.

Unlike other Korea blogs, the writer of this article has actually been here. In fact, I played in the 2018 Asian Poker Tour (APT) Korea tournament. The APT used to be at Walkerhill Paradise Casino every year but switched to Paradise City Incheon due to its better facilities. If you’re wondering how I finished, I bubbled out. Very sad.

Does Paradise City Casino Incheon have Texas Hold’em Poker?


Casinos in Busan

Paradise Casino | Busan

Paradise Casino Busan is located right on Haeundae Beach, the jewel of Busan. It is the ideal place to both experience cutting-edge slot machines and some of Busan’s most popular spots, including bars and nightlife nearby.

There’s a number of resort hotels, tourist hotels, pensions, hostels, and love hotels on Haeundae, so you don’t have to stay here. It is expensive around $300 a night.

Does Paradise Casino Busan have Texas Hold’em Poker?

Yes, it does. Like all Paradise casinos, it has poker.

Seven Luck Casino Busan Lotte | Busan

This casino is designed to mimic the feel of a European casino, and is open to players with a variety of skill sets, providing the ultimate casino experience. If you’re staying in the Seomyun area then stop in for a few hours to play your favorite casino games before heading out to enjoy the Busan nightlife.

Casinos in Daegu

Hotel Inter-Burgo Casino | Daegu

Hotel Inter-Burgo Casino

Conveniently located right in the heart of Daegu, the Hotel Inter-Burgo Casino is open 24/7. It is the only casino in the Yeongnam region of the country and so attracts pretty much everyone.

If you’re looking for in-depth information on gambling in Korea, you’ve come to the right place. Again, I’ve actually been here. This is actually a fantastic place to play poker. They used to have a Korean-American who was the pit boss here and regularly did marketing to recruit poker regulars in Seoul to visit Daegu. He would run poker tournaments in American style.

The best thing is the etiquette of the dealers. They are highly trained and a pleasure to play with.

Casinos In Jeju Island

Shinhwa Landing Casino | Jeju Island

Shinhwa World Casino

Jeju Shinwa Landing Casino is Korea’s newest casino. It was only completed right before the COVID pandemic in late 2019. At approximately 5,500 square meters, Jeju Shinwa Casino is way above average in size. It is also located within a HUGE luxury integrated resort and attracts some rich clientele. This makes it harder to get to for casual gamblers who only go to hotels to gamble and play poker. Shinwa Landing Casino does have Texas hold’em poker.

Paradise Casino Jeju Lotte | Jeju Island

Situated on the 6F of LOTTE HOTEL JEJU, LOTTE Casino is sprawled over a total area of 2,574 square meters. Open 365 days a year, guests can enjoy various games, including Baccarat, Black Jack, and Roulette, and try their luck on slot machines. The casino is also famous as the background where the Korean TV series “All-In” was filmed.

I have not been to this casino yet but it is a part of the Paradise Casino family, so you can be sure that it’s top quality.

Paradise Casino Jeju Grand | Jeju Island

Paradise Casino Jeju Grand

About 10 minutes away from the Jeju Airport, this casino is located in the Jeju Grand Hotel. At Paradise Casino Jeju Grand, visitors can enjoy classic blackjack, baccarat, and more at one of the biggest locations on the list. Paradise Casino Jeju Grand does offer Texas Hold’em Poker as well. And of course, you can be sure of quality considering this is another Paradise property.

Jeju Sun Hotel & Casino | Jeju Island

Jeju Sun Hotel & Casino

Located in the middle of Jeju Island, the Sun Hotel & Casino is a foreigner-only casino that features electronic table games (ETG), roulette, baccarat, blackjack, slot machines, and Sic bo, which is a Japanese craps-style game.

You will have many more lodging options staying in the city part and may experience a bit more of an authentic experience in Korea.

Majestar Yalanwan Casino | Jeju Island

Majestar Yalanwan Casino

The Shilla Majestar Jeju Casino operates a superb foreigner-exclusive casino befitting Shilla’s luxury image in Korea. The casino’s refined interior is about 860 square meters (on the smaller side), and has all of the standard casino games. My personal take is that you go here for the hotel or wedding, not the casino. Further supporting my argument, Majestar has had legal issues in the past.

Mega Star KAL Hotel Casino | Jeju Island

Mega Star Jeju Casino

With a name like Mega Star, it has to be good! Maybe, maybe not. But the Mega Star Jeju Casino is connected to the Korean Airlines Jeju Hotel.

Royal Palace Casino | Jeju Island

Royal Palace Casino Jeju

The Royal Palace Casino Jeju is on the smaller side at 166 square meters only. This is the definition of tourist casino. Located along Tamdong Beach, the casino is connected to the Jeju Oriental Hotel, which has about 300 rooms. The upside is that this casino-hotel is only 5 minutes away from Jeju International Airport.

Gongzi Casino | Jeju Island

Gongzi Casino Jeju

Gongzi Casino is connected to the Ramada Plaza Hotel Jeju. As shown in its name, if you’re a Chinese tourist, this is the place for you. If you’re not, you should stay away. Oh, and if you want your ears blown out, visit their website. Read more about the games they offer here.

Casinos In Gangwon

Sorak Park Hotel & Casino | Gangwon

Located near the beach in Sokcho-si, Sorak Park Hotel & Casino offers a secluded Korean vacation retreat. Sinheungsa Temple and Mount Soraksan National Park are close by. The hotel offers a sauna, a number of dining options, a bar and lounge, a karaoke club, in addition to a casino.

Sound good? Well, if you read other Korea blog sites with random tourist text, you might think so. This place sucks. I’ve been there. This is 100% a tourist-on-bus small vacation hotel. The casino is strictly there as a kind of arcade to drop your money into. It’s only open 9 pm to 3 am and has ONE table game: baccarat.

Alpensia Casino & Resort | Gangwon

When you think of a Holiday Inn, what do you think? Luxury, fantasy, snow topped mountains? Of course! That’s what you get at Alpensia (notice the Konglish name) Casino Gangwon.

Alpensia Casino is located in the township of Daegwanyeong-myeon, in the county of Pyeongchang, South Korea. The resort features two hotels (Holiday Inn and Intercontinental) and one casino. The casino owns 15 gaming tables and 50 gaming machines on almost 6,000 square feet; it is located within the Holiday Inn hotel. The game proposed are: Blackjack, Baccarat, Tai Sai, Roulette and Wheel of Fortune. The venue is open 24 h a day.

Gangwon Land Casino | Gangwon

The only gambling establishment in Korea that allows entry of Korean nationals is the Gangwon Land, established by special law in 1995. It has over 900 slot machines and over 100 tables, most of them baccarat. It also has a ton of bars and restaurants. This facility is huge.

You really must visit this just once just to see how gambling can ruin the locals’ lives and why casinos are mostly banned for Koreans. Outside this casino is where Korean dreams go to die. Tons and tons of pawnshops (전당포) even for your car (전당포 차량). The entire area leading up to the casino is like a graveyard.

If you’re a gambler looking to visit or travel to Seoul, I hope you can find what you’re looking for on this page or some of my other links!


What is the Legal Gambling Age in Korea?

Where can Foreigners Gamble in Korea?

Online Poker & Gambling in South Korea

Gambling addiction in Korea (coming soon!)

Underground poker in Korea (coming soon!)

Poker culture in Korea (coming soon!)


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