Korean gambling stifled by new fixing probe

Korean gambling stifled by new fixing probe

Monday, June 1, 2015
Koreans are not allowed to bet online or in casinos

Gambling has become a major discussion point in South Korea after one of the country’s top basketball coaches was accused of gambling on his team’s games just as the country begins to look at extending its gambling industry.

Chun Chang-jin, a five-time Korean Basketball League coach-of-the-year and a two-time head coach of South Korea’s national team, is alleged to have placed bets on illegal gambling sites on five games he coached between February and March.

The games, which were not specified, are believed to involve Chun’s former team Busan KT Sonicboom, who he has since left to join Anyang Korea Ginseng Corporation.

Seoul police official Kim Seong-woon told the Associated Press (AP) agency they will investigate claims made against Chun after two of his acquaintances were detained over illegal gambling suspicions and his bank records were examined.

Chun's lawyer Lee Jeong-won, also speaking to AP, denied the accusations and said that his client has never bet on the games he coached.

Lee said Chun never coached his team to intentionally lose, but simply reduced the minutes of his starters toward the end of last season as the Sonicboom fell out of playoff contention.

Kang Dong-hee received a 10-month prison term in 2013 for receiving money from illegal gambling brokers in exchange for fixing games between February and March 2011.

The accusations come in the same month that Suh Byung Soo, Mayor of Busan, Korea’s second biggest city, was to outline plans for a change in the law that would allow Koreans into the country’s casinos.

Earlier this year, casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corps outlined a 5tn won (€5.6bn/$6.1bn) project in Busan, but specified that the law which prevents natives from entering casinos would have to be changed.

Of the 17 casinos in Korea, only Kangwon Land Casino in north-eastern Gangwon province is open to Koreans. It was built under a special law passed in 1995 to support the development of abandoned mine areas that allows Korean patrons in the casino.

Chinese real estate developer Landing International Development recently said that it plans to raise $832m to build a casino aimed at Chinese tourists along with Singapore casino operator Genting in Korea’s Jeju province.

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