Betting and Gambling in Japan - Allowed or prohibited?

Did you know that gambling is prohibited in Japan? People involved in such games can pay up to 500,000 yen in fine. This law does not mean that Japan is 100% free from these games, so in this article we will see which games of chance are prohibited and allowed in Japan.

According to the Japanese penal code, it is a crime to bet money on casino games, slot machines, mobile games, raffles, sports or any other form of gambling. But there are still lotteries, horse races and Japan recently approved licensed casinos.


How do these gambling and gambling work despite the law in Article 23? Like prostitution, some games of chance found loopholes in the law to work. Let's see some below:

Japan betting and gambling - allowed or prohibited?

Racing Bets - Horses and Motor Vehicles

Although Japan prohibits any game of chance that involves cash betting, it does allow by law that authorized horses and motor vehicles can receive cash bets.

Horse racing (keiba- 競馬) is one of Japan's most popular gambling entertainments and earns more than billions of yen a year. Unfortunately he received a huge drop, since in the 90s this type of bet generated trillions of yen.

In the 2000s bicycle racing (keirin) was also legalized for betting. These bicycle races involved the participation of more than 5 million people. Other races that Japan allows betting on are boat (kyotei) and motorcycle (oto reesu) races.

Japan betting and gambling - allowed or prohibited?

All races with legalized bets in Japan are organized in a strict manner and with everyone involved dedicating themselves strongly to the event that can happen a few times a year and in specific places.

Sports such as motorcycle racing were banned in the 1960s because they were considered dangerous. This popularized clandestine motorcycle racing in inconvenient places organized by the mafia or rebel youth.

Lotteries and sweepstakes in Japan

Lotteries are very popular in Japan, you can buy tickets or scratch cards at the prefecture, boxes, specialized points or konbini.

Japan betting and gambling - allowed or prohibited?

Ticket prices for lottery games range from 100 to 500 yen, and prizes can reach more than 100,000 yen. Below we can see the different types of lottery games that exist:

Nenmatsu Jumbo Takarakuji - The largest lottery in Japan that takes place on the last day of the year, similar to Mega da Virada. Tickets are sold in sealed packages without selecting numbers. In addition to the turn of the year, there are 3 other jumbo lotteries that take place in: March (Green), June (Dream) and August (Summer).

Numbers 3 - ¥ 200. You choose a number between 000 to 999. The draw takes place during the week at 18:45. Whoever gets the number right can win up to ¥ 80,000.


Numbers 4 – Works just like Numbers 3, but you have to choose between 0000 and 9999. Whoever gets the number right can earn up to one million yen.

Mini Lotto - The ticket costs ¥ 200 and the games take place on Tuesday. In this game you choose 5 numbers from 1 to 31 and a bonus number is chosen randomly by the machine.

Lotto 6 and 7- 07/06 main figures are drawn, similar to Mini Lotto.

Sukuratchi - Scratch cards with instant prizes. The ticket usually costs between ¥ 100 (Lucky 3) and ¥ 200 (Scratch Puzzles, Mrs. Happy Link and Scratch Lottery).

Japan betting and gambling - allowed or prohibited?

Pachinko and Casinos in Japan

Until a few years ago (2016), there were no legal casinos in Japan, but that has changed and it is possible to find some casino resorts that are quite successful among foreigners and Japanese, despite their limitations.

To get around this the Pachinko had a strong cultural, monetary and historical influence in Japan. These machines can be found everywhere in Japan, a kind of casino mixed with pinball where the prizes are products and not money.

Of course, the products are facades, the Japanese exchange these products for money alongside Pachinko. Japan has never been able to end this, as pachinko moves more than 18 trillion yen a year.


It’s amazing how people throw so much money away… People are so addicted to gambling that they were even banned from daycare centers for the elderly in Japan.

Japan betting and gambling - allowed or prohibited?

Although prohibited, betting games, cards, sweepstakes, online lotteries and several other methods of betting in clandestine form still take place. I can’t imagine how people put their money and their hopes into these deceptions.

In addition to Pachinko, several arcade games or catcher takes advantage of bad luck to consume the player’s money, including children and young people who spend all their money trying to get an object. I say from experience. Perhaps this is the influence that drives Japanese people to pachinko.


Words related to gambling in Japanese

  • Tobaku - 賭博 - Games of chance;
  • Kinken - 金券 - Sweepstakes;
  • Kake - 賭け - Bet, play;
  • Shohinken - 商品券 - Sweepstakes;
  • Tomikuji - 富くじ - Draw that sells cards or tickets;
  • Keibaho - 競馬法 - Horse racing law;
  • Kouei kyougi - 公営競技 - Public sports;

Japan betting and gambling - allowed or prohibited?

Breaking the law with gambling and raffles

It is very common in Brazilian social networks and perhaps other nationalities to use raffles to raise funds and generate money. Like pachinko, I don’t know if using gifts as prizes is prohibited, but unfortunately using money as a raffle prize is a crime.


I was scared that this was common among Brazilians, since when I read an article about raffles in Japan and the author sent them to report, thousands of angry comments appeared. I am not a spitfire, and I think everyone does what they want, the person’s problem. But it is still prohibited and I like to emphasize it! And then they complain about prejudice and Brazilians ... It’s for the little things that start!

Japan is a rigid country and has strict control of its laws and enforces them quickly. For this reason I am only advising you not to try to raise funds in a dishonest manner, even if it is something common and acceptable in Brazil. Then it doesn’t come to say that I didn’t warn you ...

Japan betting and gambling - allowed or prohibited?

Even if the purpose is charity or solidarity, Japan is not aware of these purposes and may or may not apply severe punishment depending on the severity of the incident.

Japanese law will not convict anyone for placing a cash bet on a local game at home such as cards, mahjong or shoji for a thousand yen. Only in case of large games, involving several people and prizes of 100,000 yen or more. If you are denounced, there will be investigations. It is up to the body to use common sense and decide whether there will be punishment or not.

Bets, raffles or bingo games where cards are sold with cash, regardless of the order, are prohibited!

Can I carry out raffles, sweepstakes and campaigns without violating the laws of Japan?

It is not wrong to play any type of game such as sweepstakes, raffle or even bingo as long as the purpose is to attract customers and that the person participates for having made a commercial purchase and does not involve making money.

Japan betting and gambling - allowed or prohibited?

There are open sweepstakes that allow you to bet cash, these sweepstakes are called oopun kensho (オープン懸賞), they must be disclosed by the media and must have no restrictions on participants. To carry out these sweepstakes, participants must not pay for coupons, cards or raffles.

Be aware of the laws that even gifts and prizes provided when buying a product must have a limit of 2/10. For example: For purchases of 5,000 yen, the prize draw cannot exceed 100,000.

If you want more information, we recommend searching Google for:

  • よくわかる景品表示法と公正競争規約
  • 景品表示法について別ウィンドウで開く
  • 事例でわかる!景品表示法別ウィンドウで開く
  • 景品表示法における不当表示に係る課徴金制度等に関する専門調査会別ウィンドウで開く

We are not going to put their links here, because they usually go offline and also because the rules may vary depending on the city. If you don’t know Japanese, there is an article on PortalMie that talks a little bit about the content mentioned in the PDF.

I hope you liked the article, and I also hope you don’t get angry for poking the wound in the eye. I’m just doing what I think is right! If you liked it leave your comments and shares!