When did gambling start in Japan?

The first reference to gambling in Japan found in volume 31 of the 8th century “Nihon Shoki (Chronicle of Japan) states that in 685 AD, Emperor Temmu spent his time playing a dice game similar to backgammon called sugo-roku (double sixes). According to historical data, there are records describing gambling in Japan that date back to the 7th century, long before the country was unified. Today, Japan's most popular gambling game, Pachinko, accounts for up to 4% of its GDP, a truly impressive figure. Japan is not known for casinos because they were banned by the Criminal Code in the early 20th century.

This made casino games, including slots and table games such as poker, illegal, in an effort to avoid addiction. When it comes to Japan's history with gambling, it follows a path very similar to that of many other nations, such as India, the United States and China. Gambling dates back in Japan to the Heian period and it is believed that one of the first games played was similar to backgammon. The history of Japan's relationship with gambling is more than compelling, to say the least.

Japanese Minister Hachiro Okonogi has stated that there is no intention to legalize online gambling, so for now players should look for other avenues to enjoy casino games. From gambling and poker movies, including the iconic 1960s film Pale Flower to many anime and television shows focused on this activity, gambling occupies a prominent place in Japanese culture. While it's not set in stone, it seems that it will be a question of whether Japan makes gambling fully legal, and not when. However, great strides have been made to make running gambling legal and accessible to all people of legal gambling age.

In the UK, if someone wants to play, they can visit a casino, buy the National Lottery, visit a bookmaker or even play slots in a bar or public house. However, government regulations have restricted activity to legalized gambling halls or online casinos. Laws restricting gambling came into effect with increasingly severe penalties for flogging, exile and death. Compared to online casinos in North America or Europe, Japanese online casinos cost much less.

Beginning in the 19th century, Japan moved from national isolation to a more open foreign policy. However, there are many forms of legal gambling in Japan, such as Pachinko, Lottery and certain types of sports betting. At the beginning of the 18th century, gambling was legalized in certain activities, but 200 years later the Criminal Code of 1907 was established and all forms of gambling were prohibited. In any case, MGM Resorts is set to launch the first IR in Osaka, probably by 2025, and the government will genuinely focus on responsible gaming, committing to some of the strictest regulations in the world, including limiting locals to a maximum of ten visits per month and imposing a local entry fee ( entry of foreigners) will be free).

One of the arguments against the events was that Japanese people who were not used to gambling would be too prone to addiction. While casinos were banned in Japan, a unique form of gambling culture emerged instead, and more than “almost half of all free time in Japan is spent in pachinko lounges (more on that later).

Makayla Henegan
Makayla Henegan

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

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