From dog races to pachinko, off-base gambling options abound in the Pacific
SEOUL — On-base slot machines aren’t the only gambling venue available to U.S. troops stationed overseas.
As many readers pointed out when Stars and Stripes asked what they thought of a proposal in Congress to ban slot machines on U.S. bases, gamblers can simply head off base if they want to wager a bet.
There are plenty of choices for off-base gambling in the Pacific, from legal wagering on dog, horse, bicycle and boat races to full-blown Vegas-style casinos, as well as national lotteries and games that use legal loopholes to allow players to win cash.
And lawmakers in Japan are considering additional legalized gambling opportunities.
According to Japanese and South Korean ministries in charge of various gambling venues, here’s what’s currently available outside the military bases in the Pacific:
Horse racing: Available at 28 tracks. In fiscal 2006, tracks made $29 billion; 75 percent paid out as winnings.Speedboat racing: Available at 24 locations. In fiscal 2006, the races made $8.8 billion; 75 percent paid out as winnings.Bicycle racing: Available at 47 tracks. In fiscal 2006, the races made $7.8 billion; 75 percent paid out as winnings.Motorcycle racing: Available at six tracks. In fiscal 2006, the races made $1 billion; 75 percent paid out as winnings.Soccer lottery, or “toto”: Lottery tickets sold during March-December soccer season. Made $465 million in 2007; 50 percent paid to winners and the other 50 percent used for sports promotion activities as directed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.Public lottery: In fiscal 2006, total sales were $9.9 billion; 46 percent paid out as winnings; 40 percent used for public works projects for municipal governments that sold the tickets; 14 percent used for operating costs.Pachinko and slot machines: These are not considered gambling, only as entertainment and amusement businesses, according to Japanese police officials. Customers play games for prizes, and then “sell” the prizes at a nearby off-premise booth for cash. Police say it’s a legitimate loophole. “The transaction is considered as a business dealing in secondhand articles, therefore legal as long as it is located outside the premises of the pachinko or slot parlor,” a police spokesman said.South Korea
Casinos: There are two types of casinos in South Korea, those that allow only foreigners and one that allows South Koreans. The casinos that cater to foreigners, including one a 10-minute walk from Camp Coiner’s Gate 20, require customers to show a valid passport, and offer slot machines, poker and roulette. The Kangwon Land Casino, the only one that allows South Korean customers, pulled in about 870 billion won (about $950 million) in fiscal 2006. Officials said that included a net profit of nearly 250 billion won (about $270 million). Officials said they didn’t have data on how much was paid in winnings.Horse racing: There are three tracks where people can bet on the horses; they took in a total of 5.3 trillion won (about $5.7 billion) in fiscal 2006. About 1.4 billion won (about $155 million) was net profit.Speedboat/bike racing: It’s legal to gamble at both of these venues, but officials said financial data was unavailable for release.