The current minimum gambling age in South Korea is a weird 19 years. The reason why its weird is its uniqueness. The government didn’t believe that the moment young people turned 18, were ready to subject themselves to gambling. However, the concerns are still growing massively and the regulators are actually considering to double down on the minimum age requirement again, further increasing it to 21 years.
Land Casinos or Online Operators?
There is no real database concerning this question. The authorities are trying to determine whether or not most of the young people subject themselves to gambling activities by physically going to a casino, or accessing the multiple online options. Considering the tech development of Korea and the percentage of digitalization, it is safe to say that these young people are more likely to end up on an online slots website, rather than an actual casino. Furthermore, Land Casinos aren’t too cheap. Or to say it differently, take way too much time and money for 19-year-olds to access them.
It is quite blurry to say which was better, to introduce strict regulations on online casinos or just raise the age requirement. But the government seems to have gone with the latter.
Preventative measures are nothing new to the gambling industry. In fact, there are age restrictions on numerous other lucrative businesses as well. For example, gambling in the USA is considered extremely taboo, if you don’t go to Florida or Vegas, but the idea of under-age people accessing various financial platforms was completely overlooked. The differences between financial markets and gambling are a very sensitive topic for the whole world, South Korea included. All of this can be boiled down to chemistry. Financial markets induce annoyance or rage when you lose, but gambling actually induces more dopamine, as if “let’s try one more time I was so close”.
Dopamine is highly addictive, especially for young adults who are still “developing their mental health”, and can be easily affected. This increase in minimum age requirements can be South Korea following the footsteps of the USA, to “make sure” the person’s mind is developed enough that it can resist addiction.
Data to back it up
According to GGRAsia, the decision was also influenced by the rapidly rising indicators in various Asian countries, concerning gambling addiction. For example, Singapore and Macau are pretty much filled with addicts, so much so that they have started relying on tourists more than they did in the past.
With this data to back him up, Kim Kwang-Soo, a legislator for the Democracy and Peace party presented himself at the National Assembly, supposedly. The proposal was to make amendments to the Tourism Promotion Act and feature the minimum age for gambling as 21.