Japan Online Casino Guide

Gambling Industry Overview in Japan

The following approaches will be presented

  • Gambling legislation in Japan
  • Gambling authorities in Japan
  • Online casinos in Japan
  • and more

The gambling situation in Japan has always been quite shaky. The country is considered as conservative when it comes to perceiving some traditions or ways of entertainment from the West.

Japanese laws have been and still remain extremely strict. They put a fine line between the so-called “skill” games that are legalized in the country and the “luck-based” games that are currently proclaimed as illegal.

Flag of JapanThere are no casinos in the country in the Western sense of the word. Still, there are currently almost 20,000 gambling halls in Japan, which offer “entertainment with prizes” to their visitors.


Currently, Japan is put in the middle of a intense discussions on the matter if it should make casinos legal and permit them in some areas of the country. For several months now, the Bill Promoting Implementation of Specified Integrated Resort Areas, which is also known as the “Casino Bill”, has been aggressively debated.

The Bill aims at legalizing casino facilities on the territory of Japan, which are currently banned by the country’s laws. The local legislation is often found confusing for non-Japanese visitors who do not see the logic for the country to have a giant “pachinko” industry, but not to legalize gambling.

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The situation is shaky, because some laws related to gaming and gambling activities in Japan date back to the beginning of 20th century and do not correspond to modern life. The initial list of legalized betting activities included only horse riding and bicycle racing. Boat racing and motor biking were added to this list later in order to create the total of four “Public Sports”, which are the only ones that are not proclaimed “out of law” in Japan.

Gambling Legislation in JapanIn general terms, gambling is banned in Japan under Article 185 of the country’s Penal Code. The text of the Article also provides details on the punishments that are to be imposed in cases of betting on an “event of winning or losing to be decided by chance or accident”.

Maybe one of the worst and most-criticized parts of the current Japanese legislation, when it comes to gambling, is the fact that the Penal Code does not require every aspect of a certain game to be decided by chance or accident only. This basically means that even if a certain part 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.

Even the mere act of opening a gambling house on the territory of Japan is criminalized in the country.

However, there are four public sports that are legalized under special laws – bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, horse racing and powerboat racing. All of them are currently put under the control of local governments or government corporation. The public lottery and the Japanese Soccer Pools are also exempted from the list of prohibited gambling activities in Japan. .

Everyone, who wants to operate the permitted above-mentioned activities, is required a licence. Up to date, licences have been received by local governments or government-related entities only.

  • Horse racing
    The major horse racing activities in the country are currently being operated by an organization called the Japan Racing Association. A total of 24 non-JRA tracks are being run by the local governments on the territory of Japan.
  • Lottery
    The lottery has been legalized over the past decade. Nowadays lottery tickets can be purchased directly at the special sanctioned lottery booths. The company that currently runs the national lottery – Toto – is the only legally licensed web-based gambling portal.
  • Pachinko
    Pachinko is currently not controlled by the country’s government, nevertheless it is quite similar . The game is considered as unique, because none of the other legalized games in the country is so popular among local players.
  • Bicycle Racing
    This type of entertainment has been very popular among local citizens for years now. The sport’s beginning in the country was reported after the end of the World War II.
  • Casinos
    Up to date, there are no legal casinos existing in Japan. The country has been considering to change its policy, as the idea of legalizing casinos has been put on the agenda for years.

Online Gambling

Online wagering for lottery, soccer toto and public sport is allowed by the Japanese Government. However, these are the only types of betting activities that is currently legalized in the country. The only way for local players to access games offered in online casinos, including web-based poker and bingo games, is by using the websites of foreign operators.

Mobile gaming websites are also among the illegal gambling opportunities on the territory of Japan.

Steps towards Gambling Legalization

Internet Gambling in JapanOver the last few years, the political leaders in Japan have been considering the pros and cons of legalizing the gambling industry in the country. An eventual pro-casino legislation is believed able to bring extra capital, but there are also concerns that it would be encouraging for excessive gambling.

Up to date, the so-called Casino Bill of the country could be put for vote in the municipal elections that are to take place in April 2015. The Bill is strongly supported by the Prime Minister of the country – Shinzo Abe – and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. This has made the casino legislation theme one of the hottest topics in the gambling industry over 2014.

If the Japanese Casino Bill is approved, the country’s gambling market will become the third-largest one in the world, after the ones of Macau and the US respectively. A large number of international gambling operators have already expressed their interest to make an investment in the country.

The Japanese Government also believes that if approved, the Casino Bill would be helpful to the country by assisting it to find a better economic stability. An eventual legalization in the country will also help Japan consolidate its growth after years of financial depression. Still, gambling activities remain illegal in the country, which is set to make a decision for its future soon.

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