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A Gentleman’s Guide to Gambling in Japan

A Gentleman’s Guide to Gambling in Japan
Photo by DEAR on Unsplash

One of the fastest-growing and most successful industry in the world is the gambling industry, which is not limited to the lottery, sports betting, and casinos. It is currently worth an estimated $443.2 billion and is expected to continue growing to well over $500 billion by 2026. It is no surprise then that many countries have legalized gambling in some form over the last few years, and some have plans to do so to take advantage of the economic benefits it provides. 

One such country that is in the process of legalizing casino gambling in Japan, in the form of integrated resorts. However, until then, no casinos or forms of casino gambling can operate legally in the country. This doesn’t mean that no forms of gambling are legal; it is still very much possible. So, if you would like to gamble while in Japan, you’d need to understand the laws, what is allowed, and how to gamble anyway. 

Understanding the gambling laws

Japan has had a very interesting relationship with gambling over the last few centuries, and it was officially made illegal in 1907. However, historically, it always has been. The definition of gambling in Japan is quite broad, and that is for a good reason. With any law, the broader the definition, the easier it is to enforce. Gambling is defined as placing anything of value, which could be money, receivables, a stake, or property, against the uncertain outcome of events subject to change. 

In 1925 that definition was expanded to include that even the promise of placing a stake, regardless of whether the stake was offered, the outcome determined, or the winnings paid, constituted as gambling. However, gambling for entertainment purposes by offering inexpensive items as a stake is not punishable by law. In terms of online gambling, the law is quite clear; if the person participating can do so from Japan, then the law above applies. 

What is allowed?

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Not all forms of gambling are illegal in Japan; however, so if you would like to still gamble, then betting on public sports, racing is still an option. They are only four sports at the moment that a person is allowed to bet on, and those are bicycle, motorcycle, powerboat, and horse racing. Of these sports, horse racing is by far the most popular. There are 24 non-JRA (Japan Racing Association) tracks across the country, and 10 JRA tracks in places like the Tokyo area, northern Honshu, Kansai area, Kyushu and Hokkaido. Another extremely popular form of gambling is pachinko; there are about 2.73 million pachinko machines available in parlors across Japan. 

Pachinko is a pinball type game and officially is only used to play for tokens which can be exchanged for prizes. However, if you know where to look, those tokens can be exchanged for real money, and that is how 8.9 million pachinko players gamble. 

How to gamble anyway 

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Photo by Emile Guillemot on Unsplash

Online gambling in Japan is technically illegal, but the law surrounding it is quite ambiguous and, as a result, not enforced very often. So, if you have tried placing a few bets on the horse, had a go at a pachinko machine, and would like to try out a few Japanese online casinos, then there are quite a few to choose from. One of the most popular Japanese casinos is Joycasino. If you want to see a full review that covers many of the reasons it is so popular, Mankineko Casino has a great review you can read here. The site has received many reviews bordering on 5-star and offers various games, such as live dealer games, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and over 700 slot games. They also offer a selection of payment methods, including EntroPay, ecoPayz, Visa, and Mastercard, and have very good mobile support. 

Another popular choice is LuckyNiki, which was established in 2017. This casino offers over 2,000 games in poker, slots, baccarat, blackjack, and roulette. There are many live table games as well, all of which are available to play on mobile. 

Although casino gambling is still illegal in Japan, there are plenty of other gambling forms available, such as betting on public sports racing and playing pachinko machines. The ambiguous laws surrounding online gambling allow players to gamble on a few sites, such as Joycasino or LuckyNiki. 

Featured Photo by DEAR on Unsplash