Japan allowed online and offline gambling establishments in the country for the first time in July 2018. Before that, horseracing and a few selected types of car racing were all the gambling that Japanese citizens were allowed to try. Do keep in mind that pachinko has remained the dominant gambling activity in Japan for more than a hundred years at this point in time, but it was and still is somewhat controversial in its legality or illegality!
Now that virtual and real casinos have also joined in with pachinko, as well as bets on horseracing and car racing, the Japanese government is finding it exceedingly hard to control the gambling scene.
Gambling in Japan Before July 2018: Puzzling Facts
As mentioned, pachinko, horseracing, and auto racing were already legal in Japan, with pachinko always operating in the grey area of Japanese gambling laws. There were certain absurdities in the nation’s gambling laws, as well as the gambling habits of Japanese citizens, which are puzzling, but the facts, nonetheless, are as follows:
- Nearly half of all leisure time was being spent in pachinko parlours
- Pachinko parlours in their entirety earn revenues above the $200 billion/year mark as a result
- That figure is bigger than the combined gambling revenues generated in total by the US and UK
- In spite of these stats, pachinko is not seen in a good light by Japanese citizens, some of whom are actually regular players
- To make the Yakuza-controlled pachinko industry legal, all they had to do was put up a glass wall between the player and the cashier
- In spite of Japan’s open discontent for the gambling industry, they do have the world’s largest gambling industry in the form of pachinko
The Controversial Japanese Gambling Bill of July 2018
There was a huge uproar in the country after the Japanese government decided to legalize gambling to an extent, back in July 2018. Roughly half the population did not agree with the decision, while the other half did. This is when things got really complicated and something quite puzzling once again came to light. The government is very specific about the kind of gambling that is allowed legally, but not against the idea of gambling itself. It is puzzling as that doesn’t really help gamblers addicted to the habit itself, be it horseracing, card games, pachinko or betting on car races.
Addiction Control is More Necessary in Japan than Casino Control
Let’s highlight a few facts that make it obvious exactly how fruitless casino control is at the moment in Japan, and why the government is struggling with it.
- There are a large number of illegal casinos in Japan
- More than half the population is highly addicted to gambling
- The government has already legalized gambling in almost every form, making restrictions mostly pointless
- Pachinko parlours are found everywhere, and even in regular shops nowadays
Effective measures for addiction control will, therefore, be perhaps more effective in curbing the act of overspending in casinos and pachinko parlours.
Can You Gamble Legally in Japan Online?
In spite of there being so many illegal options online, and the Japanese government’s constant struggle to control them, there are ways for locals to avoid all the confusion and play peacefully, without having to worry about legality. Manekichi by PlayCherry Limited is an authentic example of just such an establishment. It has the prestigious affiliation and registration of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), which is exactly the kind of authenticity players should be looking for in online casinos before opening an account with them.
The Unofficial Casinos of Japan
While pachinko is somewhat shady, it is not illegal, which is why we even have a revenue estimate to work with. Unfortunately, criminal organizations still operate a whole ring of illegal casinos in Japan, and there is no way for us to estimate exactly how big that business is. Although the authorities do close down illegal casinos every now and then, anyone who has been to the country knows that it isn’t too hard to find one, if they really want to! This also points to the complexity of the situation, and a government that seems to dislike the gambling industry quite openly, but either has little power to stop the illegal activities or the will to take sufficient action against it.
In spite of everything, the good news is that if you are in Japan now, you can gamble in pachinko parlours, online casinos and offline casinos, as long as you are careful about the two aspects of gambling that apply internationally: addiction and legality. The government might be struggling to control the illegal online and offline casinos but playing to excess in online or offline casinos is never a good idea. Only gamble with what you can afford to lose.