North Korea Allows Horserace Betting – 12-Year-Olds can Gamble

North Korea is known a totalitarian state that doesn’t offer many freedoms. In fact, people face up to three years hard labor for illegal gambling. But the DPR is softening their stance after legalizing horserace betting. What’s more is that people as young as 12-years-old can gamble on the races. The New York Post reports […]

North Korea is known a totalitarian state that doesn’t offer many freedoms. In fact, people face up to three years hard labor for illegal gambling.

But the DPR is softening their stance after legalizing horserace betting. What’s more is that people as young as 12-years-old can gamble on the races.

The New York Post reports that this move was done to capture some of the private wealth floating around. Legal horse betting goes along with North Korea’s other recent moves, including building resorts and swimming pools throughout the country.

Races have opened up at Mirim Horse Riding Club near one of leader Kim Jong-un’s new resort developments. The field was mostly filled with white-grey horses, which are a symbol of the ruling Kim family.

“Kim has been pushing for vanity projects for a theme park, sky resort and the horse riding club for the sake of propping up the people’s well-being but their real purpose was to earn foreign currency,” said Na Jeong-won, who heads the North Korea Industry-Economy Research Institute in Seoul.

Legal Horse Racing Used to Combat UN Sanctions

North Korea has taken a big hit in terms of international currency after UN sanctions. The country continues their nuclear weapons program in the face of these handicaps. But they’re trying to overcome the sanctions by creating more leisure opportunities.

“You may have ridiculed Kim Jong Un for constructing lavish facilities while struggling to feed the people, but those things are to make foreign currency, not from foreigners but from the well-offs inside North Korea because you have to pay in US dollars or Chinese renminbi there,” said Lee Sang-keun, a researcher at the Institute of Unification Studies of Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

“Many North Koreans make lots of money from the market, dine at hamburger restaurants and go shopping, all of which help fatten regime coffers. That’s part of the reason why the regime still has some financial latitude despite international sanctions.”

The entry fee to the racetrack is $35, which is a significant amount for most North Koreans. And this doesn’t even include any bets. That said, the fee may be lowered to $10 in the near future.

 

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