Simon’s Guide to Gambling in North Korea & Casinos for Tourists

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The picture shows Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. This is the header image of my guide detailing the legal status of gambling and online gambling in North Korea. Any form of gambling in North Korea is illegal for citizens but tourists can play legal in the only one North Korean casino.

Guide to casino gambling in North Korea

 

After the Japanese surrender in World War II, Korea was divided into two zones by the US and the Soviet Union with the north occupied by the Soviets, and the south by Americans. North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia, in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea shares a land border with China to the north and northwest, and a small section of the Tumen river forms a border with Russia to the northeast. The Korean Demilitarisation Zone marks the boundary between South Korea and North Korea.

The DPRK describes itself as a self-reliant social state and holds elections too. In reality, North Korea is considered a totalitarian dictatorship with Kim Jong-un as its supreme leader.

Gambling is illegal for citizens of North Korea but interestingly it is legal for tourists on guided tours. In North Korea, the casino business started in the 1990’s. Investors from Hong Kong and Macau were allowed to open casinos in the country to attract Chinese players (gambling is illegal in China). Today there’s only one casino operating in the country located in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.

Online gambling is forbidden for North Korean citizens. The internet access is highly regulated by the North Korean government so it is not possible for the average citizens to access the world wide web. The citizens can only access a free domestic network called Kwangmyong. As you would expect this network is highly censored too. Only a handful of people have full access to the internet in the country.

To summarize, gambling is illegal for North Korean citizens but allowed (strictly regulated and under supervision) for tourists.

 

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Casino gambling in North Korea

 

Online casino gambling in North Korea: illegal for citizens, legal for tourists

 

The only casino operating in North Korea is called the Pyongyang Casino and is located in the country’s capital and largest city, Pyongyang. Citizens are forbidden to play any form of gambling, but tourists are allowed. North Korea actually invests heavily in gambling in Asia. North Korea owns one-third of all Japanese pachinko facilities.* The access to the internet is very limited for citizens and controlled by the government. Only a handful of individuals is allowed to access the global internet in North Korea. As of 2014, only 1024 IP addresses were administered in the country.*

Online gambling is illegal and players are prosecuted so we definitely don’t recommend it. Interestingly online gambling websites are not blocked by the state owned ISP.*

 

*Gambling in North Korea

*New York Times: North Korea Loses Its Link to the Internet

*Uritours: Tweets from North Korea

Bingo in North Korea

 

Online bingo in North Korea: illegal for citizens, legal for tourists

 

Bingo is a popular and well-known game around the world, especially in the US. However, because it’s a form of gambling it is illegal for North Korean citizens to play offline and online too. The internet access is very limited for North Korean citizens, so it’s not possible for them to play online bingo legally. Bingo is legal for tourists but there is no information about the game’s availability in the country’s only casino.

 

 

Poker in North Korea

 

Online poker in North Korea: illegal for citizens, legal for tourists

 

Poker is one of the most (if not the most) popular card game out there. Many consider poker as a game of skill, knowledge, and observation. Unfortunately, poker still counts as a form of gambling in North Korea.
However, tourists are allowed to play poker in the country’s only one casino.

 

 

Sports betting in North Korea

 

Online sports betting in North Korea: illegal for citizens, legal for tourists

 

People love sports, this is no different in North Korea. However, sports betting is an entirely different matter. Sports betting is illegal for the citizens and violators are penalized.

Theoretically sports betting is allowed for tourists, but there are no bookmakers in North Korea at all.
Online sports betting is unheard of in the country.

 

Lottery in North Korea

 

Online lottery in North Korea: illegal for citizens, legal for tourists

 

The lottery is the most common form of gambling around the world. There was an online lottery site operated by North Korea with a South Korean company called DPRKLotto.com (to get around the South Korean gambling laws). The website got blocked by the South Korean government, so with no customers, the site stopped its activity entirely. In North Korea, there is no lottery for the citizens to participate in.

Lottery is considered gambling, therefore it is illegal in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Online lottery is unheard of, and there is no lottery for tourists either.

 

 

Bitcoin gambling in North Korea

 

Bitcoin gambling in North Korea: illegal for citizens, legal for tourists

 

Bitcoin is a so-called “cryptocurrency” invented by Satoshi Nakamoto back in 2008. Bitcoin was the first decentralized currency in the world. It gained a lot of popularity worldwide since its inception. Bitcoin gambling is gaining popularity around the world too because of its anonymity. However, with the limited access to the internet North Koreans can’t (and are not allowed to) really participate in Bitcoin-related gambling. Besides this, there is no official information about the regulation of Bitcoin gambling in North Korea, it is likely that the blanket ban on gambling applies to Bitcoin gambling as well. The country’s only casino does not accept Bitcoin.

 

If you have questions or any feedback don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. Please let me know in the comments section if you think we might have gotten something wrong or if you have additional information, clarification about the legal status of online gambling in this country.

 

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This page is part of Simon’s List – Legal Status of Online Gambling – a definitive guide to the legal status of all forms of online gambling activities in every country around the world.

 

Last updated: 2016-02-09

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Simon's Guide to Gambling and Casinos in North Korea
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Simon's Guide to Gambling and Casinos in North Korea
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An overview of gambling's legal status in North Korea and the country's only one casino (open only for tourists).
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