Japan is a touch more open to gambling than many of its Asian neighbours. This is not to say that it is legal to gamble in the island nation, only that it is easier and more accessible. Officially, online gambling is illegal in Japan, but just like Canada and a few other countries, grey-zones can be exploited, so online gambling laws can be seen as open to interpretation. This makes Japan one of the most exciting countries to look at when it comes to online gambling laws. With that in mind, that is exactly what we will aim to do with this article.
An Overview of Gambling in Japan
Officially, gambling is deemed to be illegal in Japan, under the Japanese Penal Code (Article 185). However, there are naturally a few exceptions. Pachinko, sports betting and the Japanese lottery are also accepted forms of gambling and are regulated by the Act on Carrying Out Sports Promotion Vote, and the Lottery Ticket Act. Land-based gambling was also made legal under the Integrated Resort Implementation Law in 2018.
Lottery games are regulated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Sports betting and a handful of other land-based gambling games are regulated by the Ministry for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Horse racing is also legal and regulated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Where does this leave online gambling, though? Officially, betting online is a grey zone. There are no specific laws which prohibit online gambling, but Japan naturally intends for its citizens to assume that internet betting is illegal.
Japan’s Most Played Casino Games
Quite a few online casino games and other betting options are now legal in Japan, albeit under certain terms and conditions. Here are the highlights and the things you need to know before you decide to gamble in the Asian country:
Pachinko: Pachinko is a kind of land-based machine game which is immensely popular in Japan. Pachinko games are deemed legal in land-based venues, and naturally, many millions of Japanese players take full advantage of this.
Land-Based Casino Games: Land-based casino games are now legal in Japanese, although some have proven more popular than others. Games of skill are usually more acceptable than games of chance. Pachinko is typically more popular than slots, but that is a trend which is starting to change. Table games such as poker are not as popular as you might imagine, although baccarat, blackjack and roulette tend to be viewed more favourably.
Online Casino Games: Online casino games are not legal in Japan, despite a number of online casinos catering to Japanese players. Those Japanese players that do decide to play online casino games typically tend to play Pachinko and slot machines over traditional online casino table games.
Lottery and Bingo Games: Japan has a history with lotteries which stretch back to the 1600s. The Takara Kuji (Japanese National Lottery) has been around since 1945 and is hugely popular. Japan does not have a problem with its citizens and residents playing at offshore lottery sites either, meaning that all sorts of lottery games are open to players in Japan. Bingo is not as popular in the Asian country as in other parts of the world. However, there are no specific bingo laws, so Japan doesn’t take a view on bingo games either one way or the other. This makes bingo neither legal nor illegal in the country.
Sports and Horse Race Betting: Having a crack at sports betting or wagering on horse races are both legal in Japan. Football lottery betting (known as Toto), bets on horse racing, boats, bicycles and motorcycles are officially the only legal sports you can bet on. Other forms of sports betting seem to fall foul of Japan’s gambling laws. You will, therefore, not find these offered at Japanese sportsbooks. However, Japanese players can just as easily access this wider range of markets by playing at international sportsbooks if they wish.
Taxes on Big Wins at Japanese Casinos
Of course, any operator catering to Japanese players legally is going to have to pay their share of gambling tax. These taxes are a little on the high side, but this is what keeps foreign casinos out of the Japanese market.
Japanese gamblers, themselves, are also subject to taxes on their winnings. This is done in a bid to limit the number of gamblers that the country has. Research has revealed that less than 5% of Japanese players who have won ¥10.5m or more actually bothered to report their win to the government. Japan’s laws state that gambling winnings up to ¥500,000 (just shy of $4,500) are considered tax-free as they represent an occasional income. However, anything won over that amount is taxed at a mouth wagering 50%.
The Best Japanese Online Casinos to Join Today
Japan has not legalised online casino gambling. Nonetheless, millions of Japanese players opt to bet online. They do this by visiting offshore casinos. Japan does not punish its citizens for playing at international casinos, and many foreign betting sites accept players from Japan. In fact, they make up some of the most popular and best Japanese online casinos around. Before playing at one, here are a few things to consider:
Play at the Major Sites: Because of the easy-going nature of the Japanese gambling laws, many big operators have shown an interest in the Japanese market. It is entirely possible for you to play at leading international brands as a Japanese player, and given the opportunity to do so, you should. These represent some of the safest and fairest online casinos around.
Japanese Features: Most of the bigger offshore casinos are more than happy to offer gameplay in Japanese. On top of that, they may also provide assistance and customer support in that language. Japanese players are known to use the US dollar when betting online, but a good number of sites also accept the Japanese yen.
A Surplus of Games: Japan is a touch limited when it comes to the types of games they have legalised for their nationals. The best international casinos for Japanese players will be those which provide a variety of games, including those which are not conventionally available in Japanese brick-and-mortar gambling venues. This is especially true if you are considering playing at Japanese sportsbooks.
Assurances Concerning Safety: You are unlikely to find an online casino licensed out of Japan, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim to play at a proper, legal and licensed casino. Again, many of the major international sites are licensed out of reputable jurisdictions. These offer responsible gaming, are certified and world-renowned, so Japanese players can take those sites at their word.
Japanese players are currently living at a time when they can play at virtually any site they wish. The authorities do not prosecute Japanese players for visiting offshore casinos, and the gambling laws in the country are becoming more liberal each year. If you are residing in Japan, you can choose from major international casino, lottery and sportsbook domains as you see fit. You can find many of the best Japanese online casinos right here at this site.