HORSE RACING IN NORTH KOREA

Gambling in North Korea has until recently been punishable by three years of manual labor.  However, strict international sanctions on the country have made for a scarcity of hard currency and caused the State (Kim Jong-un) to change its policy.

In March 2017, North Korea requested proposals for casinos and on October 15, 2017, people were allowed to gamble on horse racing at the Mirim Horse Racing Club near Pyongyang.  The wagering method employed was not conventional pari-mutuel but rather was a raffle-like system to bet on jockeys.

The Mirim Horse Racing Club is a former military horseman training center that the State in 2012 began to convert to a leisure center.  It has seven outdoor riding courses, an indoor training facility, restaurants, a pavilion, and a sauna.  Mirim stables around 120 mostly white-grey horses, including 67 Orlov Trotters from Russia.  The State purchased the trotters for the equivalent of a reported 175,000 U. S. dollars, a significant amount for a nation in which severe food and housing shortages prevail.

The limited gambling permitted in North Korea is pathetic when contrasted with the opportunities people have in free-market economies and is yet another example of the country’s control of individual freedom.  Imagine what a North Korean horse-racing fan would think about having access to the choices available on a service like TwinSpires or Xpressbet or seeing the spectacle of an American or British Triple Crown race or the Breeders’ Cup.

Betting via a raffle on jockeys in North Korea has no appeal to most horse-racing punters in market-based nations in the West.  If someone wants to engage in a North Korean-oriented bet, a much more interesting and challenging betting proposition can be found on online betting shops.   For instance, two current bets on one popular website are as follows:

“What year will Kim Jong-un cease to be Supreme Commander?

2031 or later 4/7

2026-2030 5/1

2021-2025 9/2

2018-2020 7/1

2017 14/1

Method that Kim Jong-un is removed from his role as Supreme Commander?

He dies 1/10

Overthrown in a coup 5/1

He resigns 8/1”

The payoff if Kim Jong-un dies in a coup is unclear.

Copyright © 2017 Horse Racing Business

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