5 things you should know about the Japanese gambling industry

For many people in the western world, it seems normal to gamble. You can buy lottery vendors nearly everywhere, bet on sporting events, or go to a local casino. However, this is not the same everywhere. In Japan, for nearly a century, there has been a tough stance on gambling. The practice has been ostracized and generally forbidden. That does not necessarily mean there was never any gambling going on. Furthermore, things have been changing lately in Japan! Check out the five key things you should know about gambling in Japan.

Online Gambling is Alive

In the US, during times of prohibition, people didn’t simply give up alcohol. Rather, there existed a complex underground bootlegging industry. Similarly, in Japan, gambling has always had a bit of an underground presence.

Trusted online casinos exist where citizens can gamble their hearts out, and the Yakuza had even run illegal casinos. However, the real gambling industry is the booming online platforms. Citizens can hop on websites via their smartphone or laptop to gamble. And as many of these sites are hosted offshore, people can get by saying that they’re not gambling in Japan.

Considering that gambling, even online, is still illegal in Japan, citizens often have to navigate blocked sites to get to online casinos. Luckily for the locals, with VPNs, they can easily get to one of their favorite online casinos.

While online casinos have a strong grip on the industry, they aren’t the only fix gambling-lovers have.

The Culture of Pachinko Parlors

Pachinko is a uniquely Japanese game that has its origins in the American game Corinth. When it came to the island country, it grew vastly in popularity, and today, it helps define Japanese culture. After some years, the originally mechanical-based game was converted into an electronic game full of LEDs and unique sounds.

While pachinko is just a game, it has taken the place of gambling for the Japanese. It’s essentially an electronic pinball game that allows players to earn prizes. These prizes are then often “sold” for cash as a means around the idea of gambling.

Nonetheless, it has always remained legal and as an exception to the criminal code. Japanese residents look at pachinko as a standard leisure activity in their culture that just happens to allow them to earn a little side cash.

Sports Betting Galore

Another way for Japanese citizens to get around the gambling laws is through betting on sports. While sports betting is by no means the same as what goes on in a casino, it is still gambling. Plus, sports often have groups of dedicated followers who find betting a more exhilarating way to watch the sport.

In Japan, the most popular sport to bet on is horse racing, and it holds a similar following to what’s seen with races like the Kentucky Derby. Located around the country, there are 24 government-run horse tracks. However, the actual sport of horse racing in these government-run facilities is quite poor. Other private horse racing options may prove better for aficionados.

Beyond horse racing, Japanese locals often bet on bicycling and boat racing. While these may seem to be a bit less exciting in comparison to other forms of sports betting, they attract many followers.

The Japanese Lottery

Just like many other countries, Japan offers citizens the chance to win big with the lottery. Located all around the cities are government-sanctioned booths where one can buy lottery tickets. These booths are typically found in popular public areas like shopping areas and train stations.

The largest lottery that can be won operates in a unique fashion. No matter how much is won, only half of the revenue from the lottery is given out as a prize. The other half is then reinvested in nonprofits and local governments.

Also similar to many other countries, there are several options one can play. Booths sell scratch-offs, small ticket games, and plenty more.

The Recent Change in Gambling Regulations

While Japan has never had trouble finding ways to gamble, it was never likely for the laws to last for good. Thus, in 2018, the Integrated Resort Implementation Law was passed. This saw three major cities selected as locations where casino resorts would become legal. These cities are, unsurprisingly Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama.

To go along with the decision, in 2020, the Casino Administration Committee was set up. The goal of this committee is to oversee the operations of the casino resorts. Although this seems like a valiant stride, the Covid-19 pandemic has likely halted construction efforts. The plan is for construction to begin around 2025.

Additionally, the law isn’t much of a surprise to the rest of the world. Gambling can provide a huge injection into the local economy, and many international companies will likely jump at the chance to contribute to the efforts.

Japan is a marvelous country full of life, culture, and opportunity. Historically, the Japanese had a hard stance on gambling, yet at the same time, they allowed it to flourish without the need for casinos. The future, on the other hand, will see vast changes in the gambling industry as soon as the casino resorts open for play!

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