More and more South Korean celebrities are getting involved in ‘habitual’ gambling at overseas casinos and thereby violating local laws.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Sophisticated Crime Investigation Division wrapped up its months-long probe on former K-pop idol Seungri and YG Entertainment Yang Hyun Suk on Wednesday. They were found guilty of so-called ‘habitual’ gambling at casinos based outside of Korea.
South Korea imposes exceptionally strict gambling limits on its citizens. Citizens are only allowed to gamble at local lotteries, a few race betting options and the Kangwon Land casino located 200km north of Seoul. South Korean citizens found to gamble for more than “momentary pleasure” at casinos overseas can be fined a total of KRW 20 million (US$ 17,000) or imprisonment for up to 3 years.
According to authorities, the 28-year-old Kpop idol Seungri (of BigBang), spent more than KRW1 billion (US$855,000) during his semi-annual visits to an unnamed Las Vegas casino since 2014. Investigators believe Seungri has been gambling for a lot longer. But because the country’s ‘habitual gambling’ laws have a five-year statute of limitations, they could only charge him for recent activities.
49-year-old Yang Hyun Suk, former CEO of YG Entertainment, was said to have spent several hundred million won at a number of Vegas casinos over the same period of time. Also, three of Yang’s acquaintances, none of whom are public figures, face similar charges.
A local police official was quoted to have said that the gamblers were also suspected of violating the Foreign Exchange Transaction Act to fund their gambling activities overseas. But the investigation failed to collect enough evidence to support such claims.