Is gambling always bad?
According to what the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) does with its gross turnover from the money people have gambled on horse racing, it doesn’t always seem so. Betting on horse racing has always been a controversial topic in Korea, because there is the notion that public enterprise should not include businesses that harm people.
Many social organizations criticize the KRA for encouraging gambling, claiming that more Koreans lose bets from the KRA than anywhere else. The facts also back up this argument.
First of all, the money they make keeps increasing. From 2008 to 2012, the gross turnover increased from 7.4 to 7.8 trillion won (US$7.1 to 7.4 billion). But surprisingly, the number of visitors to the race tracks halved, going down from 21.2 million in 2008 to 10.6 million in 2012. This works out to the average bet per person per game increasing from 350,000 won (US$338) to 490,000 won (US$473), which is a whopping 40 percent increase in five years. This can only mean one thing: the KRA is a gambler training center.
To change this bad image, the KRA is working hard on giving back what they’ve earned to society. The KRA is using 16 percent of its gross turnover from horse racing operations for corporate social responsibility activities.
Corporate social responsibility has been proven to be a very effective way of improving a company’s image, thus companies in all sectors are spending money to serve society and people. The KRA is one public enterprise that has been doing lots of work.
The most recognizable actions they’ve taken for corporate social responsibility have been done by the KRA Angels. The KRA Angels are a group of volunteers that donate their talents to many different activities, from giving out briquettes and kimchi to operating free meal trucks for socially-neglected people in Korea. The KRA is also running sisterhood programs by affiliating a local welfare facility to a department in the KRA so that the employees in that department can volunteer at their affiliated facilities. There are currently 26 welfare facilities with which the departments of the KRA are sisters. The eight headquarters of the organization are also connected to agricultural or fishing villages. And, if that was not enough, the company also did overseas volunteer work in Myanmar last year.
The KRA is also running horse-related community welfare programs. In 2012, it opened two equine healing centers, one in Incheon and the other in Siheung. Together they have done almost 13 thousand sessions of horse riding therapy and about 17 thousand counseling sessions. Last year, they opened another one in Daegu. These centers have not only helped people to be healthier, but have also created 79 jobs.
The KRA is planning to hire between 70 and 100 additional people every year for this project. Speaking of jobs, a total of 188 jobs were created by all corporate social responsibility programs run by the KRA in 2012. They added 239 more in 2013, and are becoming more aggressive this year with a plan to hire an additional 600.
The organization is doing much more this year than previous years to serve corporate social responsibility. Last March, it launched a Corporate Social Responsibility Foundation under the slogan “Let’s Run Innovative Management Declaration for the Second Start Up.” They have divided their activities into four themes: creating jobs, raising kids, sharing culture, and doing volunteer work. Attention-drawing programs like “helping out North Korean refugee kids” and “home improvement for village seniors” will slowly but surely improve the KRA’s external image, and make horse racing seem less offensive.