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Casinos in Japan: a complete guide for gamblers

Japan is a rather small island nation located in the Pacific Ocean. Known as the land of the rising sun, this place attracts tourists and travelers from all other the world. This is a truly amazing country with a unique culture and beautiful landscapes. However, despite being one of the most progressive places on Earth, Japan is also one of the most conservative nations. This is why the gambling situation here has always been very unstable.

Japanese laws are uncompromising. The government of the country draws a distinct line between the skill-based games that can be mastered through training (they are considered absolutely legal) and the luck-based games that do not rely on any other skills besides luck (such entertainments are forbidden). Today, Japan does not have any casinos in the Western sense of this word. However, there are still nearly twenty thousands of gambling halls in the country, which offer so-called “entertainment with prizes” to customers.

Offline casinos in Japan: is there a way to play legally?

Right now, the Japanese government holds discussions on the matter if it should make gambling establishments legal and remove the restrictions in certain districts of the country. Politicians have been aggressively debating for months about the Bill Promoting Implementation of Specified Integrated Resort Areas, or, in simpler words, the “Casino Bill”.

The above-said Bill should legalize gambling establishments on the territory of the country. They are forbidden by laws at this moment. The local legislation is often found confusing for non-Japanese people who do not understand why Japan has a giant “pachinko” industry (read more about it later in this review) but refuses to legalize traditional casinos loved by many people from all over the globe.

The situation is very dubious since some of the Japanese laws related to gaming and gambling activities are dated back to the dawn of the twentieth century and are not really used in the modern life. The very first list of legalized betting activities included only two sports: bicycle racing and horse riding. However, boat racing and motorbiking were added to this list over time, so now the country has four sports that you can legally bet on. Placing a stake on any other sport is illegal in Japan and may lead to serious problems.

Law nuances of gambling in Japan

Playing in casinos is restricted in Japan according to a bunch of the local laws called Penal Code. This document explains the penalties that are to be taken against gamblers in cases of betting “event of winning or losing to be decided by chance or accident”.

The worst and probably the most questioned nuance of the modern Japanese legislation related to gambling, is the fact that laws of the country do not mention that all the aspects of any certain game to be decided by chance or accident only. In other words, it means that even if a small segment of winning and losing is decided in such a way, the game would be considered as part of the gambling category, which makes it prohibited in the country. Therefore, opening a gambling house in Japan would be considered illegal.

Nevertheless, as we have already said, the country has four public sports that are legalized under special laws. This list includes the following sports:

  • Bicycle racing;
  • Motorcycle racing;
  • Horse racing;
  • Powerboat racing.

All of these activities have been already regulated by the government of the country. The public lottery and the Japanese Soccer Pools are also exempted from the list of prohibited gambling activities in Japan.

People who would like to open their own betting company will have to get a license. Up to this date, only local governments or government-related entities have received them. Such people can choose any type of house.

  • Horse racing. The main horse racing event in Japan is operated by the organization called the Japan Racing Association. Over 21 thousands of races are held every year. This sport is one of the most popular in Japan!
  • Lottery. The lotteries were considered many years ago. At this moment, lottery tickets can be purchased directly at the special sanctioned lottery booths.
  • Pachinko. Nowadays pachinko are not controlled by the government of the country, but it is almost the same thing. This is a giant machine that resembles both slots and pinball at once, but it does not allow players to win money prizes. Over 15 millions of Japanese people visit pachinko parlors on the daily basis, and the number keeps increasing every day.
  • Bicycle Racing. This sport is not as popular as the others are, but it still has many followers among Japanese gamblers who bet on their favorite racers.
  • Casinos. As for now, there are no legal ways to open a casino in Japan. However, the government has been attempting to change the current policies, as the idea of legalizing casinos has been put on the agenda for years.

Online gambling in Japan

Anyone can gamble and make stakes online on the territory of Japan. However, the law only allows you to play the lottery and bet on one of the four allowed types of sport. All the other types of activities are strictly forbidden in Japan. If you want to get access to games offered in online casinos, including web-based poker and bingo games, you will have to choose the websites of a foreign operator at your own risk.

In other words, you are free to choose any foreign online casino if you want to play online, but it has to support players from Japan. Most of the software developers are presented in this country. Here are some of the companies:

  • Microgaming;
  • IGT;
  • Spin Palace;
  • Betsoft;
  • Vegas Paradise Casino;
  • OpenBet;
  • NetEnt;
  • Real Time Gaming.

As to the casino websites, hundreds of them are available in the Cayman Islands. Here are the most popular platforms among gamblers:

  • Galaxy Pig Casino;
  • Gaming Club;
  • Betway Casino;
  • Spin Palace;
  • Casino Cruise;
  • Cabaret Club Casino.

The number of gambling websites that accept players from Japan only keeps increasing, so players will always have a great number of options to choose from.

Future of gambling in Japan

During the last several years, Japanese politicians have been thinking about the cons and pros of legalizing the gambling industry in this beautiful country. An eventual pro-casino legislation will be able to bring extra capital, but there are also concerns that it would be encouraging for excessive gambling.

If the government of Japan legalizes traditional casinos, the gambling industry of the country will instantly become the third-largest one in the entire world, after the ones of Macau and the US respectively. Many people known companies are interested to make an investment in Japan.

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