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Betting in Japan

Published on: 01/02/2016

Most types of gambling are prohibited in Japan, however horseracing and motor racing betting is accepted as they are regarded as public sports. Japan’s government have authorised horse race betting and the country is gaining global recognition in the sport. Horseracing is also enjoyed by the citizens and is a popular form of entertainment across the country.

Japans horseracing industry is organised very much like that of England’s Tote, where tickets are entered into a prize pool and roughly 80% of the money is used for pay outs. Profits made on public sports bets are put towards national and local governments.

The Japanese Lottery (Toto) is organised using the same system and has jackpot offerings via football and number draws. Toto-style betting has become popular all over Japan, especially since J-League soccer has gained popularity; however, kiosks and machines to provide tickets are few and far between.

The Toto is fully functional online; it is the only gambling company in Japan with a licence permitting it to legally offer betting services on public sports and events. Any activities which are related to non-public sports or events remain illegal.

In Japan the people can enjoy watching both horseracing and football online. This enables a certain level of gambling interest to be maintained, however people who want to place bets must do so via sportsbooks based abroad.

The authorities in Japan do not like foreign sportsbooks and try to discourage the citizens from wagering on them; however there are no penalties for doing so.

Foreign sportsbooks are happy for the Japanese people to place bets via the internet and provide assistance on their betting web sites using the Japanese language.

Games machines are very popular in Japan and big cities such as Tokyo provide pinball and slot machines in abundance. Slot machines inevitably mean spending money and ultimately involve a degree of chance, but regardless of this, the Japanese government state that games machines are not classed as a form of gambling and are therefore completely legal.

Throughout all of Japan, casinos are strictly prohibited. However, illegal casinos have been known to operate, often organised by gangs such as the renowned Yakuza. Japans Liberal Party has campaigned for the legalization of casinos on the basis that it would benefit the country’s economy, boost the tourism industry and hinder illegal gambling opportunists. Mobile gambling is also prohibited in Japan but this form of betting is hard to monitor and remains very popular. The game operators and sit hosts generate a huge amount of profit from mobile gaming.

The current position of the gambling industry in Japan is likely to change in the near future for a number of reasons. Firstly, because illegal gambling activities are so prolific throughout the nation and secondly, because Japanese punters are turning more and more to foreign sportsbooks who are happy to provide multiple gambling activities to citizens of Japan.