Japan is a country with a special approach to gambling. A limited list of gambling varieties is allowed in the country. The main part of its items is made up of specific national entertainment, such as pachinko or mahjong, in addition, players are given the opportunity to place bets on some types of races.
Most modern casino games are currently banned in Japan. Paradoxically, the Japanese are among the most gambling nations. It is almost impossible to find legal halls for playing pachinko empty. In addition, slot machines, exotic for most of the world’s countries, are widespread in Japan, for example, a simulator of walking with a pet.
Despite the formal ban on gambling for money, circumvention schemes are widespread on Japanese territory. For example, not far from the halls with pachinko machines, toys and souvenirs giving out winnings, you can often find exchange offices. In them, players can exchange the won copies for a cash equivalent. According to statistics, about 15 million Japanese people visit pachinko halls every year.
Japanese gambling legislation
Currently, the Japanese Penal Code provides for liability for organizing and participating in gambling. These provisions are reflected in Articles 185, 186 and 187. According to them, the organizer of gambling can receive up to 5 years in prison, and the participant up to 3. Here is a list of legal types of gambling available to residents of Japan:
- pachinko and pachislot;
- bets on horse, bicycle, car and motorcycle races.
Casino games, sports betting and slot machines (except pachinko) are currently prohibited.
In late 2016, the Japanese parliament approved a bill that would legalize gambling. Nevertheless, according to experts, it will take more than one year to develop and implement a licensing system, and Japanese casinos will open their doors to their first visitors no earlier than 2020. The legalization of gambling was due to two reasons:
- in 2020, the Olympic Games are planned in Japan, and the presence of legal gambling establishments would serve as a powerful additional tool for attracting tourists;
- Macau and Singapore, where gambling laws are loyal, have become the most sought after tourist destinations in the region.
Thus, when deciding to legalize gambling, the authorities were guided by the idea of attracting additional income from foreign guests.
Gambling Licensing in Japan
At the moment, the only type of license available to private companies is permission to open a hall with pachinko machines. It can be obtained by a company run by a person who has no criminal record and has not been noticed in connection with the mafia. Before the opening of the hall, the police check all slot machines for compliance with the necessary technical requirements. Pachinko halls cannot be located near the following objects:
- higher education institutions;
- public libraries;
- medical institutions;
There is no specific license term for this type of activity, but it must be renewed periodically. The halls cannot be visited by persons under the age of 18.
Online casinos in Japan
Under current Japanese law, there is no established legal definition of online gambling. There are also no regulations governing this gambling segment. It is not yet possible to obtain a license for the operation of a site that provides the opportunity to gamble on a remote basis.
Despite the fact that there is a fine for participation in gambling, this measure is practically not applied to online casino players. The most popular gambling site in Japan is Netkeiba.com, which is dedicated to betting on race results.
The most popular online casino is Bitcasino.io. This is the first virtual gambling house to use Bitcoin as its main currency. In second place is the Verajohn.com casino.
Most Popular Slots in Japan
Pachinko or pachislot is the only legal slot machine available in Japan. In its structure, it is a cross between a pinball and a classic video slot. While playing pachislot, a gambler cannot receive winnings with real money. Pachinko, as one of the few legal forms of gambling entertainment, often adapts to cult gaming products. In gambling halls you can find machines based on popular games such as Silent Hill and many others. There are over 10,000 pachinko halls in the country.
In online casinos, Japanese players most often prefer the following slot machines:
- Gonzo’s Quest;
- Dragon King;
- Big Bad Wolf;
- Aloha! Cluster Pays.
Pachinko emulators are also available on the Internet, but they are not very popular with the Japanese. The oriental board game mahjong is also popular in Japan. This is an analogue of craps, which is often played on the streets. Despite the formal ban, underground mahjong halls are widespread in the country, most of which are controlled by the yakuza. There is also an official Mahjong Professional League in Japan.
Gambling software developers
A manufacturer called Konami has long been the largest in Japan. In 2005, the company moved its headquarters to Las Vegas. She started her work back in 1969. The manufacturer specializes not only in slot machines, but also in video games. It was this company that created such bestsellers as the Dance Dance Revolution, the Silent Hill horror series, the first computer-based tactical spy game Metal Gear, and much more.
Among the slot machines released under the Konami brand, the following developments are popular:
- Ancient Dragon;
- China Shores;
- African Diamond;
- Chip City.
Prospects for the development of gambling in Japan
The prospects for the Japanese gambling business can be called promising. Major representatives of the international gambling market have already expressed their desire to start working in Japan. There is information that the first gambling house in the country will be opened by the American operator Sands. According to the head of the corporation, Sheldon Adelson, it is planned to invest about 10 billion USD in the project. According to forecasts of industry analysts, the gambling business will annually bring about USD 25 billion to the Japanese budget.
It is planned that the construction of casino hotels will be carried out mainly in Tokyo. According to the chief secretary of the Japanese Cabinet of Ministers Yoshihide Suga, the bet on the profit from gambling houses is made not only for the period of the Olympics, but also after its completion.
The laws of Japan currently in force do not provide players and operators with special freedom, however, after the adoption of the law on legalization, the situation should radically change.