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Screen Horse Racing is Tempting

Posted May. 02, 2004 22:10,   


On April 30, at a certain screen horse racing arcade in Seoul, about 40 people concentrated on virtual horse racing games in front of computer game consoles in a room filled with thick clouds of smoke.

A man in his forties dressed in shabby clothes couldn’t leave his seat, saying, “I’ve lost more than 600,000 won in the last two days, but big rewards have come whenever I have made up my mind to give up.”

“Almost every person here has stayed up all night,” said a 23-year-old part-time worker at the arcade, adding, “We return at least the transportation fare to the people who lose more than a million won.”

In recent times, “screen horse racing” has become popular. This computer game is a kind of gambling where, after playing in a virtual horse racing game on a large computer screen, the arcade rewards the people with commodity certificates.

The amount of betting money reaches a maximum of 360,000 won, and participants can play up to 500 times a day, greatly arousing the passion of gambling, yet no particular regulations have been prepared to date.

--Betting and betting, a hot temptation for life’s “All-in!”

Different from outside horse racing games which takes place with real horses on an outdoor race track, screen horse racing games are played on the computer. The participant bets money on the virtual horses after observing information that appears on the screen for couple of minutes before the actual race. One can bet anything from one point (50 won) to a maximum of 6000 points (300,000 won). Most participants wager from 300 to 400 points which are worth about 15,000 to 20,000 won.

“Fifth horse leads the group, and the ninth horse tries to get ahead of the others!”

Like practical horse racing, participants are paid back an apportionment as a reward according to their betting money and the ranking of the horses. They receive a 5,000 won certificate per 100 points won, and exchange those certificates for actual money in the money exchanging stores outside. Scores under 100 points automatically convert into game points credited towards the next game.

One can wager their money for 120 horses at a time and the game time of one racing is only 5 minutes, raising the risk of gambling away one’s fortune in a short amount of time.

Though manipulations are possible because the game is based on computer consoles, practically no inspections have been carried out so far.

A certain person in his fifties at a game room in Seoul who exchanged 10,000 won into 500 won tokens about every 10 minutes said, “I’ve lost all of my money earned in a month’s physical labor in only two days. But, I feel pleasant when I win back my money after losing.”

--Regulations and supervision are needed

The horse racing and lottery businesses strictly regulate its betting money rules and implementation frequencies by the government in accordance with the “special law for regulating and punishing gambling behaviors.”

But, as the screen horse racing is categorized as an “adult game” according to the “law for computer games, videos, and music,” it isn’t influenced by such regulations. In addition, since screen horse racing venues can be established after just a simple registering at local governmental offices, the arcades are spreading rapidly.

On April 23, an organized violence case was brought about for a screen horse racing game room in Seoul, which has earned more than 30 million won a day, where about 12 gangsters were arrested.

Though the Video Game Grading Commission has prepared countermeasures in recent times such as the revision of relevant laws, it is urgently necessary for any regulation system to prevent the consequences related to such problems.

40-year-old Psychology Doctor Lee Min-sik has said, “As for gambling which people cannot easily predict how much money they can win, the power of addiction becomes much greater. In order to make a sound society, proper regulations and surveillances should be carried out.”