Gambling in Japan
TakeBonus December 04, 2018 General

Gambling in Japan


Gambling has an important tradition even in Japan, where it has been forbidden for a long time. Actually, for two consecutive centuries, between 1600 and 1800 (the Edo period) gambling was considered a serious crime, government policy prohibiting gambling.

Even so, Japanese gaming enthusiasm is historically certified. The first Japanese chronicles testify that in 685 Emperor Tenmu invited the aristocrats of the time to play hakugi, a dice game of Chinese origin, where they could win various awards.

In modern Japan, gambling takes a variety of forms: Lottery, Roulette, sports betting (football, horse racing, cycling), Mahjong, Pachinko (the most famous game in Japan)


Illegal Gambling

In the past, in order to regulate gambling, the government offered a special status to professional gamblers. From this group of special players, protected by the law back then, the current Japanese mafia has developed, with roots in the world of gambling. The Japanese mafia, Yakuza, whose name comes from the legend that says a mobster has lost his hand at a card game, is known to have the foundations, the rituals and the traditions from the great gangsters of the past.

From that time until recently, gambling remained banned in this country with a few notable exceptions, including betting on horse racing and certain motorsports.

Lottery (Takarakuji) in Japan

The lottery is held under a special law aimed at increasing the income of national and local governments, as well as to offer a form of entertainment for many people.

There are three main types of lotteries: unique number lotteries, selected number lotteries, and scratch cards. Each lottery ticket is sold at around 100 to 500 yen, and the top cash prizes are usually 100 million yen or more.

Takarakuji tickets are available at takarakuji booths and stores in many cities.



Pachinko is the most popular amusement game in Japan, often compared to pinball. It is not officially considered a gambling game because Japanese laws regard pachinko as an exception to the criminal code on gambling for cultural, historical, and monetary reasons.

This game brings considerable annual revenue to the Japanese state budget, while over a quarter of the Japanese population plays Pachinko. This game is also one of the most popular forms of enrichment for Japanese investors, many of those operating Pachinko climbing the Forbes charts very fast. Pachinko has become popular also outside the borders of Japan, being introduced into the amusement halls of the United States or the United Kingdom.

2018 Gambling Laws

On July 20, the Japanese Parliament approved a law, which allows casino resorts to open in this rich country in order to attract even more foreign visitors. It is expected that, through this move, Japan will soon become the world's third-largest gambling market, with estimated revenues of over $40 billion annually.

The goal is that by 2020, casinos will operate in resorts that include hotels, conference halls and malls. The casinos will operate also during the upcoming Summer Olympics that will take place in the capital Tokyo, which strides to become the new Las Vegas of East Asia.