As of my last update in September 2021, gambling in Japan was somewhat restricted, but the regulations were evolving. Japan historically had strict anti-gambling laws, primarily to prevent issues related to addiction and organized crime. However, there have been some recent changes to the laws that open up certain forms of gambling.
- Pachinko: Pachinko is a popular form of gambling in Japan, resembling a mix of pinball and slot machines. While pachinko itself is legal, the exchange of pachinko balls for cash is not. Players can exchange their winnings for prizes, which they can then take to nearby exchange centers to receive cash.
- Horse Racing: Horse racing is one of the few legal forms of gambling in Japan, and it has a long tradition in the country. The Japan Racing Association (JRA) and the National Association of Racing (NAR) oversee and regulate horse racing.
- Lottery: Japan has a lottery system known as “Takarakuji.” It is a popular form of gambling where tickets can be purchased at authorized retailers, and winners are selected through random drawings.
- Casinos: Historically, casinos were illegal in Japan, but there have been discussions and efforts to introduce Integrated Resorts (IRs) to the country. An Integrated Resort combines casinos with hotels, entertainment facilities, and other amenities to attract tourists. The hope was that these resorts would boost Japan’s tourism industry and economy. By 2021, the government had passed a law legalizing casinos and started the process of establishing regulations for the development of IRs. Specific locations for IRs had not been confirmed at that time, but several cities were being considered.