Is it illegal to play in Japan?

Most forms of gambling in Japan are generally prohibited by Chapter 23 of the Criminal Code; however, there are several exceptions, including betting on horse racing and certain motorsports. Most gambling is illegal in Japan, but there are exceptions. Betting on some sports such as horse racing and certain motorsports is allowed, and football pools known as “toto” and lottery are allowed by special laws. Japan's Strict Gambling Regulations and Laws Mean No Casino Has Been Allowed to Operate on Japanese Soil.

However, it seems that this is about to change. Gambling in Japan has been strictly prohibited and regulated since Chapter 23 of the Penal Code, also known as Law No. 45 of the Penal Code of Japan, explicitly prohibited organized gambling or private sale of lottery tickets, with heavy fines in yen and imprisonment as a deterrent. Before they can do so, Japan will have to lift the ban on gambling, which is currently illegal in most forms.

For legal purposes, pachinko machines are technically considered “games”. Online gambling remains illegal even after the IR Implementation Act came into effect. However, recently there have been ongoing discussions within the Japanese government regarding the legalization of sports betting in football and baseball. See questions 1, 1 and 3, 1 above.

Officially speaking, gambling in Japan has been illegal since 1907, near the end of the Meiji era. During this time, of course, many “unofficial casinos” have appeared in Tokyo and outside the capital, largely managed or connected to the Yakuza, a notorious criminal organization in Japan. While walking into one of these casinos would rarely get you in trouble with the police, you won't have to watch your back less. Most forms of gambling are banned in Japan.

People who play on sites abroad while on Japanese soil are breaking criminal law, police say. The Yakuza is involved in several illegal activities, including the usurpation of loans and the management of illegal gambling halls. While the laws banning land-based casinos in Japan are very explicit, those related to virtual gambling are surprisingly ambiguous. Although there are just under 9,000 Mahjong rooms in the country, it is not part of the list of government-sanctioned games that allow real money gambling.

All pachinko prizes must be some kind of merchandise to avoid being banned by Japanese gambling regulations. However, it is difficult for researchers to obtain consent from server administrators and other parties to collect base evidence in countries and regions where gambling is legal. For example, once government and citizens see that regulated casinos can generate revenue without causing an increase in gambling addiction, Japan is likely to create laws on online casinos. The crime of managing a place to play also requires managing a place to play and “making a profit” 10 and the term “making a profit” is understood to mean intending to obtain illegal financial benefits (in the form of fees, commissions or other) under consideration.

The Criminal Code marks most forms of gambling as illegal, except betting on horse racing, playing the lottery or a local game called Pachinko and certain motorsports. Due to its popularity and history in Japanese culture, Pachinko is a game that has been given an exception by existing gambling laws. These other activities are not explicitly regulated, but could violate other Japanese gambling laws. The number of users is reportedly increasing because people are not aware of the illegality and gambling sites are aggressively promoting their services through social media.

These land-based casinos will have a significant impact on the Japanese gambling industry, both online and in person. .

Makayla Henegan
Makayla Henegan

Typical gamer. Hardcore twitter ninja. Unapologetic food ninja. Amateur tv geek. Avid social media nerd.

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