- February 09, 2023
Gambling has been prevalent in different countries. One of these countries is Japan. Despite any form of gambling being banned by the Penal Code and Criminal Code of Japan, the Japanese still like gambling. In fact, Japan's gambling industry is considered a multi-trillion Japanese yen industry. In a survey conducted in 2017, around 3.2 million Japanese people were addicted to gambling. It is said that they spend about JPY 58,000 on their gambling addiction. That being said, let us talk you through offline and online gambling in Japan and the most popular gambling games in Japan.
History of Gambling in Japan
Gambling in Japan was known to start as early as the Heian period. It has been said that the game that was played during that time was similar to backgammon, one of the oldest board games and is popular worldwide. However, it was not until the early 1700s that any form of gambling was legalized. It was easily accepted and spread in the country.
However, when the gambling laws were introduced, samurais and regular people were forbidden from gambling. During the 13th century, people caught partaking in gambling were punished. The punishment is execution.
Current Gambling Situation in Japan
In 2022, any form of gambling was still illegal in Japan. Under Article 185 of the Penal Code, gambling is illegal. Those who want to operate gambling activities must have licenses. Otherwise, anyone caught gambling shall pay a fine of up to JPY 500,000, and they must serve time in prison. The only exception is if the prize of the gambling is only for momentary amusement.
Additionally, Casinos have been banned in Japan since the beginning of the 20th century. However, some casinos in Japan are already being legalized. It is said that the size of the gambling industry in Japan is around USD 6.7 billion. The online gambling games that are accepted in the country are motorbike racing, lottery, and sports events. The lottery is also legal as it is operated and regulated by the government.
With that being said, many people who want to operate physical casinos operate in secret locations to avoid getting caught. However, it is said that online gambling is not illegal in Japan; operating one is illegal. Therefore, Japanese gamblers need to gamble using foreign gambling websites.
Famous Gambling Games in Japan
Pachinko is the most popular and favorite gambling game in Japan. It makes up 4% of Japan’s Global Depositary Receipt (GDR) and it takes most of the market share compared to other gambling games in Japan.
Pachinko is a combination of slot machines and pinball wherein the initial ball used to play are purchased. The goal of the game is to win as many balls as possible. The balls the players won can be exchanged for anything the players want in the gift shop.
Riichi mahjong is like Chinese Mahjong that features 4 players trying to win points from other players. However, it has various modifications and additional instructions that the original Mahjong does not have. It was introduced to the citizens in 1924 by a soldier who bought the Chinese Mahjong in Tokyo. Eventually, it was named Riichi Mahjong and became popular in Japan.
Poker has always been popular in different parts of the world. Japan is no exemption. Many Japanese love to play different variations of Poker, such as Texas Hold’em, 3-Card Poker, and High/Low Chicago. Now, playing poker online is available in Japan.
Baccarat is another oldest gambling card game. However, it is popular as the most interesting game among experienced Japanese gamblers. The goal is to make a total or bring the sum as close to nine as possible. Those that can do so win the game.
Roulette is the best gambling game for beginners. The players only need to predict where the ball will land. It includes the color or number where the ball will land.
The Future of Gambling in Japan
At some point, gambling in Japan was legal. However, it became illegal when laws like the Penal Code were introduced in the country. Nonetheless, most Japanese people still love to gamble. That is why the slot machine game, Pachinko, is still popular in Japan and is played by a lot of people. In fact, Japanese gamblers spend about USD 200 billion on Pachinko alone. Even though some casinos in Japan have now been legalized, their revenue is not as big as the pachinko industry revenue. There is no saying that gambling will be legal in Japan anytime soon. Luckily, there are no gambling laws that ban online gambling in Japan yet. People can still gamble online using foreign online gambling websites. And as more and more casinos are being legalized in the country by operating in integrated resorts, the gambling industry is considered to be the key to success in the country. It is said that by 2027 the revenue of the online casino market will be at USD 10.1 billion. According to Keita Yanagawa, a Country Manager at Kafe Rocks, the existence of the iGaming industry seems to be expanding in the country.
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