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Top things you didn’t know about gambling in Japan

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With the global gambling industry, which is comprised of casinos and online gambling, expected to more than double in the next 2 years, going from an estimated $227 billion this year, to $592.5 billion by 2023, many countries are attempting to get a slice of the pie. Japan is no different, passing legislature in 2016 that would allow for the construction of 3 integrated resorts in 3 cities/prefectures that have yet to be determined.

This would mean that gambling, as the Western world knows it, would be legal in Japan for the first time since 1907. Even though the current laws regarding gambling have been quite confusing over the last few decades, some still from the 19th century, the citizens of Japan still enjoy placing bets on the few legal forms of gambling in the country. We spoke to Manekineko Casino who review popular online casinos available to the Japanese market to find out a bit more about gambling in Japan.

Online casinos

The global online gambling market has exploded in recent years; many factors of this include things like technological advances, especially regarding mobile devices which allow online casino games to be enjoyed with the same impressive visuals. Another is the fact that even though gambling online is illegal in Japan, many players still access offshore sites.

These sites are very much aware of this which is why many, such as Manekineko Casino, now cater to people from Japan, providing language support, accept Yen, incorporate anime designs and provide many attractive welcome bonuses.

Many players from Japan prefer the fact that the online casinos are not legal since they benefit from the lack of local tax, which can’t be said for the forms of legal gambling. Citizens are still able to participate in the legal forms of gambling online.


Pachinko is essentially a pinball game in which players insert cash, receive a certain number of balls, and try to hit the jackpot. Depending on the score’s players get will determine how many pachinko balls they receive. Those balls are usually traded in for small prizes on the premises, however, players can trade pachinko balls in for “special tokens”, which are then sold for cash to a different vendor found off-premises.

This makes pachinko gambling still legal, and the industry generates about $200 billion each year. If you were to visit Japan, you would not be able to visit all of the pachinko parlors; there are about 9.4 thousand parlors scattered across the country, which house around 2.73 million pachinko machines.

Public sports

One of the favorite pastimes of those who enjoy betting in Japan, is public sports betting. Due to heavy regulations in the country, there are only 4 sports which are allowed to be bet on; bicycle racing, horse racing, powerboat racing and motorcycle racing.

Horse racing is by far the most popular of the 4, however being regulated by local governments and governmental corporations, the quality of the horse racing is kept low to prevent it from becoming too popular, and to minimize any addiction from forming.

The only other activity which is legal to bet on is Sports Shinko Kuji, which is betting on soccer matches, and the process involves betting on which team will win, or the score of a team.


Another relatively popular form of legal gambling in Japan is the lottery, or Takarakuji. Historically, it has been illegal in Japan, mainly being used to fund war efforts, such as the Second Sino-Japanese War, and World War II.

There are three various forms of lotteries in Japan; selected number lotteries, scratch cards and unique number lotteries. It is quite different to Western lotteries, and is limited to less than $10 million, with 12% going to administrative and miscellaneous costs, 1% to a special welfare organization, 47% of the total sales as prize money, and the rest to local governments.

Popularity has fallen however over the last few years, with only 3.9% of people in the 20’s buying a ticket once a month or more.

As Japanese gambling laws enter into the 21st century, changing many of the outdated 19th century gambling laws that don’t relate to modern times, and if the operation of the integrated resorts are successful, Japan is set to become the new gambling hotspot of Asia.

Story by Shannon Briggs

augusta free press
augusta free press