12/20/11 : Operators enabling players to trade gaming points for cash
The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's Games Rating Board has registered a four fold increase to 113 in the number of internet computer games offering illegal gambling during the first six months of 2011 (HY1/2010: 27) as gamblers shift away from video game arcades to online gaming.
The report carried in the Korea Times details online game providers, including those offering poker and card games allowing betting, affording players the option to convert virtual points into cash in a complicated transaction system involving using virtual points won to purchase virtual items which are then addressed to the operator who trades them for cash despite the process being against the law.
The transaction being fully executed online makes it difficult for authorities to detect, unlike terrestrial outlets where physical vouchers or prizes are awarded to be swapped out for real money later on.
Online games identified as supporting gambling face the revocation of their business licence after a third violation under the Games Rating Board's "strike out" rule. Game licences revoked for this transgression have risen to 20 in the first half of the year compared to none over the same period last year according to the authority.
"Gambling based on personal computers is becoming harder to monitor and we need a larger number of personnel trained with sophisticated skills," said an official from the Games Rating Board.
Korea has a heavily restricted and regulated gambling market that provides locals with very few options that include betting on racing, lottery and one casino in Gangwon Province. Authorities are concerned that online gaming will fuel internet addiction, whether gambling is involved or not, and have vowed to restrict the amount of time gamers spend online.