Gambling in South Korea is regulated by Article 246 of the country's criminal code. The law states that anybody found gambling for profit can be fined up to a maximum of 5 million won. If the culprit is a repeat offender classified as a habitual gambler, they can be sentenced to a jail term not exceeding three years or fined up to a maximum of 20 million won.
What makes the South Korean gambling law different from other gambling bans is that it applies to Korean citizens when they are out of the country. If there is evidence that a Korean citizen gambled while out of the country, even in a country where gambling is legal, then the same punishments can be applied.
In fact, there have been numerous examples of Koreans that have been charged for gambling in Macau and Las Vegas. This legal overreach doesn't just apply to gambling; it also extends to the country's drug laws. South Koreans are barred from consuming marijuana even when they are in a jurisdiction that has legalized it.
Interestingly, this law has not been enforced for online gambling as of 2022. The government's approach to online betting has blocked access to these offshore sites. No one has been prosecuted for playing at online casinos. It seems that the law, as it was drafted, can only be enforced when gambling occurs at a land-based casino.
There is also a separate law that governs operators of illegal gambling operations. Since there are no South Korean-based online casinos, it is unclear if these would also apply to online operators.
Despite enforcement enthusiasm in regular crackdowns and prosecutions, South Korea has a very vibrant illegal gambling scene that addresses the market gap caused by the gambling ban. Illegal gambling mostly comes in the form of unlicensed underground casinos and sports gambling bookies.