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Gambling industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Japan has a difficult relationship with gambling. Even though gambling is formally prohibited by Japan’s penal code, opportunities to gamble are ubiquitous, be it in the shape of the lotto booth on the street corner, the neighborhood’s pachinko hall, or on electronic devices. This inconsistency can be explained by the fact that legal gambling, with the notable exception of pachinko, is directly controlled by the government or local authorities. To resolve the legal issues of gambling, exceptions were created in the form of special laws, and loopholes were used to allow for the official approval of gambling. Currently, legal gambling is limited to pachinko, sports race betting (only certain disciplines), and lotto.
Gambling is a multi-trillion Japanese yen industry comprised of the three aforementioned segments. Pachinko comprises the largest segment in the amusement sector and generates the lion’s share of the revenue. Horse racing is the dominant category among sports race betting disciplines. Lotto has many variations and can be categorized into regular lottery and sports promotion lottery. As part of the amusement sector in Japan’s service industry, the gambling industry generates significant revenue but contributes relatively little to employment figures compared to other segments. Conceptually, gambling is tolerated because of its contributions to society in form of taxes in the case of pachinko, and the financial support provided for welfare projects or otherwise socially beneficial projects such as sporting events by the other gambling segments.

 Sports race betting 

In general, sports race betting in Japan is controlled by the government and is centered around four disciplines, namely horse racing, bicycle racing, motorboat racing, and motorcycle racing. Horse racing is administered either by the Japan Racing Association (JRA), or the National Association of Racing (NAR) and is the dominant sports betting discipline. JRA generates the highest turnover among all gambling sport disciplines, and if JRA and NAR figures are added together, they also secure the highest attendance at racing venues in Japan. Other than horse racing, motorboat racing is immensely popular and is also the only other discipline that generates an annual turnover of more than one trillion Japanese yen.

 Current trends in the gambling industry

  An overarching trend that was already observed even before the advent of COVID-19 was that live attendance at venues seems to become less desired, as attested by the steady decline of annual overall attendance figures at sports race venues, as well as figures depicting the number of active pachinko players. To make up for the decline in visitor numbers at venues, sports betting has embarked on a digitalization strategy, using innovations and technology to provide consumers with novel, flexible, and pleasant user experiences. Figures regarding turnover in sports betting show that the industry segment is expanding, while the dominant gambling segment, namely pachinko, is continuing its decline. The various advantages provided by online gambling, coupled with venue prohibitions during COVID-19 times, seem to be game-changing, propelling online gambling onto the center stage of the industry. COVID-19 times offer new possibilities and pose new challenges to all involved entities.

Key figures

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Pachinko

Arcades and game centers

Gambling apps

Interesting statistics

In the following 7 chapters, you will quickly find the {amountStatistics} most important statistics relating to "Gambling industry in Japan".

Gambling industry in Japan

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Gambling industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Japan has a difficult relationship with gambling. Even though gambling is formally prohibited by Japan’s penal code, opportunities to gamble are ubiquitous, be it in the shape of the lotto booth on the street corner, the neighborhood’s pachinko hall, or on electronic devices. This inconsistency can be explained by the fact that legal gambling, with the notable exception of pachinko, is directly controlled by the government or local authorities. To resolve the legal issues of gambling, exceptions were created in the form of special laws, and loopholes were used to allow for the official approval of gambling. Currently, legal gambling is limited to pachinko, sports race betting (only certain disciplines), and lotto.
Gambling is a multi-trillion Japanese yen industry comprised of the three aforementioned segments. Pachinko comprises the largest segment in the amusement sector and generates the lion’s share of the revenue. Horse racing is the dominant category among sports race betting disciplines. Lotto has many variations and can be categorized into regular lottery and sports promotion lottery. As part of the amusement sector in Japan’s service industry, the gambling industry generates significant revenue but contributes relatively little to employment figures compared to other segments. Conceptually, gambling is tolerated because of its contributions to society in form of taxes in the case of pachinko, and the financial support provided for welfare projects or otherwise socially beneficial projects such as sporting events by the other gambling segments.

 Sports race betting 

In general, sports race betting in Japan is controlled by the government and is centered around four disciplines, namely horse racing, bicycle racing, motorboat racing, and motorcycle racing. Horse racing is administered either by the Japan Racing Association (JRA), or the National Association of Racing (NAR) and is the dominant sports betting discipline. JRA generates the highest turnover among all gambling sport disciplines, and if JRA and NAR figures are added together, they also secure the highest attendance at racing venues in Japan. Other than horse racing, motorboat racing is immensely popular and is also the only other discipline that generates an annual turnover of more than one trillion Japanese yen.

 Current trends in the gambling industry

  An overarching trend that was already observed even before the advent of COVID-19 was that live attendance at venues seems to become less desired, as attested by the steady decline of annual overall attendance figures at sports race venues, as well as figures depicting the number of active pachinko players. To make up for the decline in visitor numbers at venues, sports betting has embarked on a digitalization strategy, using innovations and technology to provide consumers with novel, flexible, and pleasant user experiences. Figures regarding turnover in sports betting show that the industry segment is expanding, while the dominant gambling segment, namely pachinko, is continuing its decline. The various advantages provided by online gambling, coupled with venue prohibitions during COVID-19 times, seem to be game-changing, propelling online gambling onto the center stage of the industry. COVID-19 times offer new possibilities and pose new challenges to all involved entities.

Interesting statistics

In the following 7 chapters, you will quickly find the {amountStatistics} most important statistics relating to "Gambling industry in Japan".

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