Gambling in Japan

Gambling in Japan

People of Japan are lining up to the first few international resort (IR) casinos, but gambling is not legal yet there. Do you know that Japan is home to more than 4.3 million gaming machines, accounting for 58% of the global gaming machines worldwide?

Gambling in Japan

Here the machines are pachinko, and Japan has a lot of them. In Japan, it is simply called ‘vertical pinball machines.’

1. Pachinko


In Japan, a gaming hall is a huge space that is full of rows of pachinko machines, and the people are sitting in a web of brightly-colored electronics.

You have to drop a coin in the slot, and a ball is released from the top, and it bounces from pin to pin in a downward direction.

In Japan pachinko is not a form of gambling because the machines are trading in prizes, not cash.

The games practically don’t pay cash, but millions of children have access to games take real money and payout in ‘skins’ instead of cash. These skins are in the form of costumes, armor, weapons, and vehicles which players us to customize their video characters.

2. Horse Racing

Horse racing is one of the few forms of legalized gambling in Japan. The Japan Racing Association (JRA) and the National Association of Racing (NAR) oversee horse racing events across the country. Betting on horse races is legal and regulated, with both on-track and off-track betting options available.

3. Boat Racing, Bicycle Racing, and Motorcycle Racing

Similar to horse racing, boat racing, bicycle racing, and motorcycle racing are other forms of legalized gambling in Japan. These events are regulated by respective governing bodies, and betting on the outcomes is permitted.

4 . Tons of Gaming Machines

Tons of Gaming Machines.jph

The US came in second place with nearly 900,000 machines and Italy ranked number 3 with 320,000 machines.

But Japan swept the winning number of gaming machines with 4.3 million gaming machines. The total number of gaming machines in the global graph includes pachinko, slots, video lottery, and video gaming machines (like video poker).

5. Casinos are in Future

Casinos are in Future

Japan is in the last stages of accepting bids from global casino vendors for the first international resort (IR) casinos in Japan. Japan has relaxed its gambling laws in the hope to see who will be granted the first 3 gaming licenses in Japan.

Sands, MGM, and others are all competing to see who will get the first chunk of yen out of Japan’s gamblers.

This is estimated to pump billions into Japan’s gambling tourism economy, but it will also pay off early big for the casino developers.

Historically, casino gambling had been illegal in Japan. However, in 2018, the Japanese government passed a law to legalize casino gambling in the form of integrated resorts (IRs), which are large-scale complexes that include casinos, hotels, shopping malls, and other entertainment facilities.

Online gambling, including casino games and sports betting, is generally illegal in Japan. However, there are some exceptions, such as betting on horse racing, boat racing, bicycle racing, and motorcycle racing through authorized platforms.

The regulatory environment for gambling in Japan is stringent, with laws and regulations enforced to control and mitigate the potential negative effects of gambling, such as addiction and organized crime involvement.


Though Japan will not get casino gambling until an integrated resort opens in Osaka in 2029, visitors to the country may be surprised to discover that although private gambling is illegal, betting in various forms is rampant.

Gambling via designated, government-controlled sports and lotteries is a long-established practice, while a legal loophole means pachinko parlors are seen as so-called indirect casinos.