Online Casinos and Gambling in Japan

Japan has a non-standard approach to the gambling industry – only certain varieties of it are allowed. These include specific local activities (mahjong and pachinko); it is also possible to bet on a number of varieties of races.

Most modern entertainment in Japanese casinos is banned. However, the Japanese are considered one of the most playing nations. So, legal institutions for the national game of pachinko are almost always full. According to statistics, more than 15 million local players visit such halls every year. In addition to pachinko, unusual slot machines are very popular in the country. One of them is a pet walking simulator.

According to Japanese law, gambling is prohibited. But local companies have found smart ways to get around this limitation. For example, exchange points are placed next to pachinko clubs. Players, having received a prize with souvenirs and various toys, can exchange them for an equivalent amount in real money.

Japanese casino license and regulation

To date, the opening of land-based and web casinos, as well as participation in prohibited gambling entertainment, provides for criminal liability. This is reflected in Art. 185-187 of the Criminal Code. According to the law, the organizer of the gambling business faces up to 5 years in prison, and the player – up to 3. The list of officially permitted types of gambling in casinos in Japan includes:

  • lotteries;
  • pachislots;
  • pachinko.

Legal bets are accepted on horse races, car, bicycle and motorcycle races. Other forms of gambling are strictly prohibited in Japan.

In 2016, the Japanese authorities approved a bill that would legalize gambling in the country. At the same time, the parliament was guided by the desire to replenish the budget at the expense of foreign guests. In accordance with the adopted laws, it is allowed to open 3 land-based casinos to improve the local economy.

According to statistics, about 300 thousand Japanese tourists annually cross the border with China to enjoy gambling in Macau. Visitors leave about 70 million dollars in gambling establishments. The Japanese authorities plan to create appropriate conditions for the players so that these dizzying amounts remain in the country.

In accordance with the state project, the rules for foreigners and residents of Japan will be different. For local residents, entry to the Japan Casino will cost approximately 6,000 yen. It will be possible to visit gaming halls no more than three times a week. From gambling establishments it is planned to levy a profit tax in the amount of 15% of the total income. At the same time, slot machines should be placed in such a way that they do not occupy more than 3% of the total area of ​​the premises.

In 2020, the issuance of the first gambling licenses was expected. However, this did not happen due to restrictions related to the pandemic. By 2025, it is planned to build the first land-based casinos in Japan.

Major international gambling corporations are most interested in this, for example, Sands Corporation, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. They intend to get a local license as soon as possible and start building gambling clubs. As you know, Tokyo, Yokohama, Hokkaido, Osaka, Okinawa are considered as locations.

What gambling games are licensed in Japan

Today, a license is issued to private operators for only one type of gambling activity – the opening of land-based establishments with pachinko machines.

A permit for a gambling business in Japan can be obtained by an organization led by a person with a spotless reputation (lack of connection with mafia groups) and without a criminal record.

Before the opening of the licensed hall, the devices must be checked for compliance with the technical parameters, after which a certificate is issued. Only adults are allowed to visit such gambling clubs.

There are special requirements for the location of pachinko arcades in Japan. The location is prohibited near the following objects:

  • educational institutions;
  • preschool institutions;
  • public libraries;
  • medical structures.

The period of validity of a permit for this type of activity is not established, but the license must be renewed periodically.

Shadow gambling business in the country

Despite strict bans on online casinos for Japanese players, the shadow gambling business is thriving in the country. The yakuza organize a network of underground gambling establishments where visitors are offered commercial mahjong tournaments with a large prize pool. Bankrupt players are forced to pay their debts by force.

Mahjong is not the only source of income for the shadow gambling sector. Mobile virtual casinos without a passport and without verification are widespread, where users play “rock, paper, scissors”. Winnings are paid out in cash. Online casinos in Japan are also prohibited, but strict conditions do not apply to them.