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South Korea’s attempt to regulate the so-called “social gambling” industry resulted in a massive blockage of all the games available on Facebook, Korea’s webzine This Is Game reports .
According to Korea’s legislation, in order to legally offer their games to South Korean citizens, the games’ developers are supposed to pay a state fee, and to submit an application in order to have their products reviewed and rated by the Game Rating and Administration Committee (GRAC). Created to prevent the access of minors to games such as Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker and to have something in place once also traditional poker rooms will decide to actively join the social gaming arena, the dispositions included in the GIPA de facto made the whole Facebook gaming platform illegal in Korea, since they do not make any distinction between the different games available on Facebook.
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The operation started on Aug. 26 with the ban on all financial transactions directed to Facebook games, and continued with the full block of all the games available on the popular social network implemented on Friday, Aug. 29.
Even if the move directly affects popular games such as Candy Crush, Dragon City, and Farmville 2, it appears to be part of Korea’s plans to regulate the booming social gambling industry in line with the country’s Game Industry Promotion Act (GIPA) adopted last December.
While at the presentation of the GIPA, the Korean government promised that all the applications would receive a rating within 15 days from their submissions, although it is still unclear when social games will again be available to South Korean players.
The GIPA is Korea’s attempt to regulate what is generally expected to become one of the fastest-growing markets within the gaming industry.
Earlier this year, a similar attempt was made in Malta, as the Maltese Lotteries and Gambling Authority (LGA) invited the national Parliament to regulate all digital games with prizes by the end of 2014.
Social gambling regulation, however, has proven very difficult to all the countries that have tried to approach it.
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