Gambling Laws in Japan: What you Need to Know in 2021

All around the world, the only gambling industry is booming – and Japan is no exception. From online casinos with a wide variety of games and captivating visuals to online sports betting, Japan’s population of 126 million has more choices than ever thanks to offshore casino opportunities. 

However, online casinos in Japan are still a sensitive topic. Some forms of gambling are normalized by the government, but land-based casinos and most forms of sports betting remain limited or restricted. Historically speaking, Japan’s gambling regulations have been incredibly stiff. According to chapter 23 of the Criminal Code, most forms of gambling are prohibited besides motorsports, horse racing, and national lotteries. However, with the foundation of the Casino Administration Committee back in 2020, the gambling sector is finally starting to blossom.  

From Unthinkable to Possible 

For many years casino gambling in Japan was something near to impossible. However, the attitude of the government is slowly changing. Regulators put forth policies that would formally legalize casino gambling in Japan. The infrastructure is already in place, and many operators are lining up to offer Japanese punters new gaming experiences. 

Recent updates of the gambling law in Japan show that the first land-based casinos could open in 2021 if licenses for integrated resorts are approved. Those will come with many unique restrictions for those who plan on visiting Japanese casinos. For instance, Japanese players eager to relish the latest casino experiences will need to consider limits on how many visits can be made monthly as well as admission fees that must be paid when visiting. As never before, Japanese regulators take gambling addiction quite seriously; thus, they implement measures to prevent it. 

Digitized Sports Betting 

As we’ve previously mentioned, sports betting is one of the few types of gambling that have always been authorized in Japan – and as the sector moves to the online environment, it’s no surprise that this type of entertainment has also made the shift into the online world. 

Motor and horse racing remain some of the most popular sports in Japan. A mounting 21,000 horse races take place every year, including the popular Arima Kinen (the biggest bet race worldwide). In 2019, JRA or Japanese Racing Association saw a massive turnover of 2.8 trillion Japanese yen- so it’s clear that the sector is brisk. 

Online sport betting operators are making it possible for race enthusiasts to put money on their favorite games. Although Japanese sports betting platforms are still illegal ( for now), dozens of offshore platforms have entered the market, with betting opportunities like keiba, motorboat racing, and football. 

Offshore Online Casino Also Appeal to Japan 

Not long ago, before the ban on casinos in the country was lifted, the most notorious topic was” measures against gambling addiction and how online casinos could help combat this addiction. 

Offshore operators have taken all the measures to combat addiction, such as preventing users from logging in and behaving in ways that are not coherent regarding the frequency and amount of time spent on online gambling. While offshore operators offer a wide variety of slots and table games not possible in Japan, they still require registration of IDs. Online platforms remain connected to the government and third-party credit check system to collect information and ensure players wager within the rational amounts. 

Japanese Love Their Lotteries 

Lotteries are still a big dream for commoners of all ages in every state, and Japan is no exception to this. Kiosks and shops can be found on many streets that sell lottery tickets. These establishments are managed by local governments and are meant to provide much-needed income for city projects.

Typically, lottery tickets cost around 100 and 500 yen, while the prize for winning a ticket is around 100 million yen or more. Tourists can also relish Japanese lotteries. However, to purchase a ticket, you need to be in Japan and receive your ticket directly from a lottery stand.

Online lotteries are strictly prohibited under Article 187 of the Penal Code, which punishes or fines more than 1,000,000 yen for those who act as an intermediary in the sale of a lottery ticket.

Anti-Addiction Measures in Place

A lot of effort is being placed into anti-addiction measures. There are advertising policies as well as comp policies. Comps here refer to reduced or free services such as meals and rooms depending on the amount wagered at the casino. While it’s not precisely described in the regulations act, it does specify that” Nothing that could specifically provoke the desire for gambling may be included.”

For instance, slot machines must keep at least three-second intervals between spins, and autoplay is forbidden, while ATMs should not be installed within casino facilities.

Usage restrictions may be requested by players themselves or their families. Meanwhile, casino operators are required by law to cooperate and prevent problem gambling as formulated by local and national governments.  

The Outlook for Gambling in Japan

 Japanese may have been slow to embrace a certain type of legalized gambling, but the odds are in their favor. For now, they relish a massive market in the form of Pachinko, where more cash is flowing than in casinos. While integrated resorts are still on the paper, many of the offshore companies are offering Japanese punters their own online services.

For the sake of a new means to earn foreign currency and for the sake of improving the current state of gambling policies, many hope to see online casinos being normalized. Some simply like to imagine that one day, Japan will acknowledge the lucrative powers of online gambling and move towards revamping gambling rules rather than implementing laws that don’t match the times. Gambling has always been an important aspect of Asian culture, so it’s a matter of time before more gambling opportunities will make their way into the country.