A short guide to sports betting in Japan

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Japan is known as a country visited by millions of tourists every year for its amazing attractions. People come from all corners of the world to discover the fascinating Japanese culture and explore the wonderful cities and breathtaking landscapes in the Land of the Rising Sun. Apart from the remarkable cultural trip that tourists get to enjoy, Japan also has a very lively entertainment scene that enhances its appeal. 

Yet not much is known about Japan’s gambling market, compared to other countries. That’s not because gambling activities in Japan are not popular, far from it. The Japanese love a good gambling game and one can even say they have a special talent for it. But the local gambling market is a bit different from what you see in other corners of the world. And so, a lot of people are curious about the state of the Japanese gambling market in general, and the sports betting industry in particular. 

Gamblers will be thrilled to know that although the Japanese government has imposed strict laws and regulations on gambling activities, sports betting is legal and it enjoys a high level of popularity. So, if you want to learn more about sports betting in Japan and get acquainted with the local gambling market, our short guide will provide some valuable insights. 

What you need to know about the Japanese gambling market

As we mentioned above, the Japanese gambling market doesn’t resemble the gambling sectors in western countries where various gambling activities are not only tolerated or accepted, but they’re completely legal and supported by the local governments.

In Japan, things are a bit different. The Japanese Criminal Code bans most forms of gambling, leaving players with very limited options. While other countries are working towards creating fully regulated gambling environments, Japan still maintains a very strict approach in this respect. As such, there are no casinos in Japan, neither online, nor offline. Those who want to enjoy online casino games can only do so by accessing offshore casino sites, since they don’t fall under Japanese authority. 

However, all is not lost. The IR bill that was adopted in 2018 is set to change the gambling landscape in the near future and create new sources of revenue for the local economy. With the passing of the IR bill, Japan hopes to enter the casino tourism world by creating luxury casino resorts where tourists could enjoy casino games legally. Due to various setbacks, the project will probably be set into motion in 2025, a little later than it was initially predicted, but the prospect remains promising. 

Public sports and betting in Japan 

When it comes to sports betting, gambling rules are a bit more lenient. Japanese authorities allow certain forms of sports betting that fall under the category of public sports. These sports include cycling, horse racing, powerboat racing and motorcycle racing. People can bet on any of these sports without fearing they might face legal consequences. 

The best way to find sports bet options is to go online and search for more information on the topic and learn a thing or two about the most reputable sports betting operators, so you can make an informed decision. Unfortunately, at the moment, people can only place bets legally on the sports mentioned above. Any other type of sports betting is illegal in Japan, which means punters have to comply with the current legislation if they don’t want to suffer any penalties. 

It’s also worth noting that sports that are extremely popular in other countries, such as soccer, don’t enjoy the same level of popularity in Japan. The Japanese seem to be much fonder of horse racing and other sports activities, so sports betting regulations also reflect people’s preferences to some extent. 

New opportunities in sight

While casino gambling remains off limits in Japan, it doesn’t mean there’s no progress in the field. On the contrary, authorities are very much aware of the need for change, and even though there’s not going to be any gambling revolution anytime soon in the local market, Japanese legislators have been working on modernizing the gambling sector and meeting people’s needs and expectations. 

Apart from the IR bill that is widely discussed and has received positive feedback, authorities also plan on legalizing sports betting on soccer and baseball. This represents a major step towards expanding people’s gambling options and further developing the local gambling industry. This is not just about keeping gambling fans happy and meeting consumers’ demands. Sports betting is big business, so including more sports on the legal sports betting list translates into high revenue opportunities. 

Japan’s pachinko party 

Although the Japanese can’t enjoy the same variety of gambling options as people from other countries do, they have found interesting alternatives to keep them entertained and meet their gambling needs. we’re obviously talking about pachinko games.

Pachinko is as popular in Japan as slots are in the western world. These captivating games that resemble a mix between a pinball machine and a slot machine draw millions of players each year. You can find all sorts of popular pachinko machines in crowded and smoke-filled parlors all across the country, so it’s easy to see why pachinko has become more than a gambling activity and turned into a real cultural phenomenon. With all the advances that the gambling industry in Japan is going to experience in the future, pachinko will probably remain one of the most popular leisure activities in the country. 

Final thoughts 

Although the gambling industry in Japan is not as developed as some people would like it to be, there’s no denying that the Japanese love to gamble. Their possibilities might be limited at the moment, but the future’s looking bright for the casino and gambling sector. Until Japanese authorities decide to put their plans into practice and take resolute actions towards advancing the local gambling market, players have sports betting and pachinko games to keep them busy.