Did You Know Gambling Was Illegal

The government of Japan has been strict on gambling. Now, more than ever, the Japanese government seems to loosen up a little. After decades without a casino, Japanese citizens can now breathe a sigh of relief.

But what will be the outcome of the brand-new physical casino? In this article, we’ll look at where the Japanese gambling industry has been and where it’s going. We will also discuss the country’s first casino in detail.

Let’s get cracking!

History of Gambling in Japan

In Japan, gambling dates back to the Heian era. This is the last unit of classical Japanese history that lasted from 794 to 1185. During this time, the Japanese played a backgammon-like game.

It wasn’t long before gambling took root. This led to the introduction of gambling laws. According to the law, Samurai and commoners were prohibited from placing bets. In fact, engaging in gambling in the 13th century resulted in execution.

Gambling on certain events was authorised in the early 1700s. But 200 years later, in 1907, Japan’s Penal Code of 207 was introduced. It outlawed all types of gambling except betting on public sports like motorsports and horse racing.

Besides public sports, the Penal Code of 207 doesn’t illegalise certain gambling events. In fact, these events have their laws governing them. Here are the legal gambling events in Japan:


Pachinko is a slot machine game that resembles pinball. It’s not considered gambling for cultural, historical, and monetary reasons. Notably, private companies operate these games throughout Japan. The number of Pachinko parlours in the country is about 8,000. Worth noting, over 7 million Japanese gamblers play Pachinko. That’s about 17% of the country’s population.


Toto is a company that governs all lottery activities in Japan. They are also called Takarakuji. Large cities and prefectures in Japan hold lotteries regularly throughout the year. But there are 3 primary types of lotteries in the country:

  • Unique Number Lotteries
  • Scratch Cards
  • Selected Number Lotteries

Each lottery ticket goes for 100 to 500 JPY. Furthermore, the top cash prize for each lottery is over 100 million JPY.

According to the Takarakuji law, the entire prize pool for each lottery shouldn’t be more than 50% of total sales. The rest should go to charities and local government organisations.

Hundreds of stores and booths in Japan sell lottery tickets. There are several ATMs where you may also purchase Selected Number Lotteries tickets. That makes it easier to participate in these tournaments.

Gambling Regulations in Japan

One of the most frequently discussed issues in Japan has been and continues to be gambling regulation. The Japanese government approved the Bill Promoting Implementation of Specified Integrated Resort Areas in December 2016. This bill paved the door for the regulation of the gaming industry.

The Act permits only integrated resorts to offer gambling services. Furthermore, it states that gambling operators must pay a 30% tax. It also specifies that the gaming spaces can only occupy up to 3% of the overall resort floor area.

Additionally, there is an admission fee for Japanese guests. They won’t be permitted to go to the resorts any more frequently than 3 times per week and 10 times each month. That’s the most significant law in this country’s gambling market

Online Gambling in Japan

If you’re wondering whether placing bets at an online casino in Japan is legal, the answer is no. Currently, regulated online gaming does not exist in the country, which is unfortunate.

However, there is a sufficient number of interactive casinos with offshore licenses that welcome gamblers from Japan. Since players are not the objective of the legislation, you won’t be punished for playing at such sites.

Most importantly, the Japan Racing Association only provides specific online betting alternatives to players who have signed up for it. In other words, there isn’t a web casino that operates from within the boundaries of Japan.

The Opening of the First Casino in Japan

There was a feeling of relief on the 14th of April, 2023. What happened? The Japanese government approved a highly controversial plan to open the country’s first casino in Osaka. This was a strategy to draw more visitors into the country.

According to the government, the project will attract about 20 million visitors. Over 14 million visitors will come from foreign countries, and about 6.7 million will be locals. Ultimately, the country will earn approximately 520 billion JPY from tourism, with the casino generating the most revenue.

That’s not all. The project will see the employment of over 15,000 people, mostly from Japan. This translates to economic improvement in Osaka and Japan at large.

The casino will open in 2029, 4 years after Osaka holds a World Expo. Other facilities in the complex, besides the casino, include:

  • Conference facilities – 400,000 square feet
  • 2500 guest rooms
  • A hotel
  • An exhibition hall – 330,000 square feet
  • A theatre – 3500 seats
  • A shopping mall

Shares of Japan’s First Casino

Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito approved the 1.08 trillion JPY project. It will be a 5.3 million square foot complex, by the way.

The project has 3 major shareholders:

MGM – 40%

Also known as MGM Resorts International, MGM is a global gambling and entertainment company. It has locations across the US and abroad with top-notch hotels and casinos.

Additionally, it is renowned for its cutting-edge conference and meeting rooms. Along with amazing live and theatrical performances, there are also a wide variety of restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping establishments.

Through its collection of Las Vegas-inspired brands, MGM develops immersive, legendary experiences. The MGM portfolio includes 31 distinctive hotels and gambling locations across the world.

Through the prospect of an integrated resort in Japan, the Company is presently seeking focused expansion throughout Asia. MGM pledges to build a more sustainable future with its philosophy that states: Focused on What Matters: Embracing Humanity and Protecting the Planet.

Additionally, it aspires to have a greater impact on the lives of its workers and visitors. This is besides the neighbourhoods, including Japan, where it conducts business.

Orix Group – 40%

It would be unfair to allow foreign operators to undertake such a big project without considering the country’s own companies. Luckily, Japan’s ORIX Group takes 40% of the project’s share.

The government of Japan awarded ORIX Corporation the rights to build the casino on 28th September 2021. This was the same day MGM got a nod from the government of Japan.

ORIX has been operational since 1964. The company has its headquarters in Osaka, where Japan’s first casino is to be opened. It’s also headquartered in Minato, Tokyo.

ORIX was the largest leasing company and the top provider of varied financial services in Japan as of 2007. It had companies and partners in 24 countries and assets worth about 9 trillion JPY.

All these show ORIX is a reputable financial company. This, of course, means the creation of Japan’s first brick-and-mortar casino will be highly successful.

Local Japanese Companies – 20%

The remaining 20% of the integrated resort project will go to local companies in Japan. There are 20 of them, including:

  • Kansai Electric Power
  • Panasonic
  • West Japan Railway

Other institutions include Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and MUFG Union Bank. These two institutions will finance the project with 550 billion JPY.

Notably, Osaka is the largest shareholder of Kansai Electric Power. The overall output capacity of the 164 plants owned by Kansai Electric Power Company is 35,760 MW. This company will produce and transmit power in the resort complex.

Japan’s First Casino: The Outcome?

Despite illegalising most forms of gambling in Japan, over 3 million people are gambling addicts. And in Japan, most of them are over 20 years old. Now that there’ll be a physical casino in the country soon, problem gambling will soar. The same problems are happening in South Africa, said the owner of onlinecasino-southafrica.co.za. The government does not want to regulate all kind of gambling operators but in the meanwhile thousands of South Africans are playing offshore online casino games without protection or paying taxes.

Yes, there will be an increase in revenue from tourism. However, on the negative side, it’s like recruiting more players into gambling addiction. To counteract the effect of problem gambling, the government of Japan will need to set up more gambling addiction centres. So far, they haven’t talked about that. But they probably will.

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