Japan, a country known for its captivating blend of technology, beautiful traditional culture, and anime fandom, holds a lesser-known distinction—it’s the world’s top gambling hub. In this article, we delve into the depths of Japan’s gambling market.

The Gambling Market in Japan

Astoundingly, Japan’s gambling market is said to generate over 26 trillion yen in revenue annually. The sales from government-approved public racing and gambling activities, collectively referred to as public sports (such as horse racing, bicycle racing, motorboat racing, and auto racing), reached a combined total of 6.85 trillion yen last year. Central horse racing alone accounted for over 3 trillion yen in revenue.

While not officially recognized as gambling, the massive sales from pachinko and pachislot (classified legally as adult entertainment under the Entertainment and Amusement Trades Rationalization Act) also contribute significantly, with a total of 20 trillion yen in revenue in the fiscal year 2019. When combined with public sports, this amounts to a staggering 26.85 trillion yen.

This sum accounts for 35% of all leisure-related spending (approximately 73 trillion yen) and a quarter of Japan’s national budget (106 trillion yen), highlighting a level of gambling engagement that is unparalleled globally.

Furthermore, the popularity of online casinos has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presently, Japan’s laws place online casino play conducted from within the country in a legal grey area, as most offshore online casinos are not officially regulated. According to onlinecasinojapan.com, the number of online casino users is steadily increasing and currently surpasses 2 million users. However, due to the lack of comprehensive regulation and official calculation of funds spent on online casinos, the actual size of Japan’s gambling market is likely even larger.

A new casino resort is opening in Japan

Adding to the landscape, plans are underway to open a casino resort in Osaka, Japan’s second-largest city, by 2029. Historically, casinos were illegal in Japan, making this development a highly anticipated event within the country as well as neighboring nations. The legalization of casinos in Japan is anticipated to further expand the gambling market in the country.

Concerns about Gambling Addiction

Yet, alongside these developments, concerns about gambling addiction have been on the rise. According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, an estimated 2.2% of Japanese adults (aged 18 to 74) had experienced a situation that suggested gambling addiction within the past year, totaling around 1.96 million individuals. While these figures are slightly dated, they reveal that Japan’s prevalence of addiction surpasses that of several other countries, including the United States (1.9% in a 2001 study), the United Kingdom (0.8% in a 2000 study), and Sweden (0.6% in a 2001 study).

However, with the enactment of the Casino Act (Integrated Resorts Promotion Act) in 2018, measures to support individuals with gambling addiction have been introduced. National and local governments are obligated to systematically promote initiatives aimed at preventing and raising awareness of addiction, as well as providing support for patients and their families. This legislation is expected to contribute to a decrease in the number of individuals affected by gambling addiction.

This article has examined Japan’s gambling industry, its scale, the emergence of new casino resorts, and efforts to address gambling addiction. It’s revealed that Japan, indeed, stands as a major gambling nation, with a significant portion of its population engaging in gambling and confronting addiction issues. As the legalization of casinos approaches, Japan’s gambling landscape is poised for significant changes. Particularly in a country where gambling addiction is prominent, ensuring proper care for existing patients is a pressing concern.

Public sports and entertainment such as pachinko can be enjoyed as healthy pastimes if not marred by addiction, and the implementation of integrated resorts, including casinos, is expected to invigorate the economy and local communities.