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Understanding the Legalities of Online Gambling in Japan

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Online gambling has become a big part of the fun and entertainment industry , especially for casinos. Casinos have become even more popular with the addition of online casinos which make them almost unavoidable wherever you may be and at any time.

The industry has been dubbed to rake in a staggering $262 billion in 2019, an increase from the previous year of over $13million. Despite this severe success, the pandemic has had a negative impact on the industry but with things normalising, it is on the way back to business.

Due to its troublesome effects, it is banned in some countries. Though overtime, it is slowly gaining acceptance in these countries. Japan is one of the new countries that started legalizing gambling slowly in 1718 until 1907 when it indefinitely banned gambling.

More recently, it is opening up to physical casinos due to a legislation in 2018 to legalise casino gambling with limitations. Gambling in Japan requires treading a thin line between what is legal and illegal. Here is a guide.

Is gambling illegal in Japan?

Gambling is an activity that tows the line in Japan because of the regulations and limitations around it historically in Japan. Most forms of gambling are illegal except on the internet where it is difficult to regulate by the government. This means that a lot of online casinos have started to expand their businesses online.

Today you can find casino websites such as Japan-101 which can help you find the most popular games, by reviewing the best casinos, together with the promotions and bonuses that they offer. This could be a good solution for the people who search for such entertainment, taking into consideration how restrictive this can be in Japan.

While the regulations around gambling are stringent, there is a small breath of fresh air being accommodated within the industry through integrated resorts with casinos that are allowed to run up to a certain time.

What forms of gambling are legal?

Gambling has a bad reputation in Japan but despite this, there are some forms of gambling that are allowed to operate. Some of these include gambling on horse races, some auto races and pachinko. More recently, casinos are seeing a rise with the introduction of integrated resorts that host them.

Despite being legal, many of these forms of online gambling are limited through caps on bets. Additionally, for games such as Pachinko, players are not allowed to cash out their winnings. Rather, they are given tokens which they can use to get prizes.

What is the most popular form of gambling?

By far, the most popular gambling game in Japan is Pachinko. It was estimated to bring in revenue of $200 billion in 2018. Pachinko has about 13000 parlours across Japan with different colours and flashes to draw the passer-by into the fun. The goal of pachinko is to drop a silver ball bearing into the middle of a hole by turning a single wheel that propels it.

Standing in the way of getting the ball to its destination are different bouncing pins that the ball bounces off. The adventure in getting the ball to its destination through the different barriers with the different colour themes and lights is what makes it so attractive. Additionally, there are tokens to earn for winning.

How big is the market?

You would never imagine that a fun and entertaining game would ever be similar to a country’s GDP. In the case of gambling in Japan, it is. Their industry accounts for 30 times the annual gambling revenue of Las Vegas, double the revenue from Japan’s auto exports, and more than the GDP of New Zealand.

It also employees more than the top ten car manufacturers in Japan and accounts for more than half of the country’s leisure activities. This is all with the current limitations that have hindered the establishment of casinos. But with the laws developed in 2018 that are deregulating and making it easier for casinos to operate, sky may be the limit in terms of customer and revenue gains.


Japan has a long unfriendly history with gambling which has been characterised by bans, limiting regulations and bad reputation for gamblers and gambling. Recent strides have made it more acceptable and are also increasing the opportunities for casinos for online gambling to open in Japan.

It is no longer a shunned industry but seen as an industry that provides employment, fun and revenue to the government. Is it successful? So far, it has been with Pachinko but in the future, there is a more favourable climate for casinos which will bring even more success.


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