Pachinko Guide - Betting Machines in Japan

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Many of you may have heard of Pachinko (パチンコ). Pachinko is a type of mechanical game and is used both as a form of arcade game as a gambling game. Well, in the title it’s like a “betting machine” but the Japanese don’t consider playing Pachinko as a “gambling game”, just “gambling”. Especially because gambling in Japan is prohibited by law.

But let's go and agree, that and a casino is the same. The Pachinko industry is the largest leisure activity in Japan. The sector employs more than 300,000 people and raises about $ 225 billion a year.

Pachinko salons are everywhere. You can see the flash of the train's neon lights as you enter stations across the country. Turn on the TV and you will see commercials for new salons and machines. However, Pachinko is also the cause of a serious addiction problem in Japan.

Pachinko guide - betting machines in japan

Japan recently made some regulatory changes to deal with addiction - one requiring the payment system to be less "exciting". However, because it is considered only a "game" and not a "bet", the addiction to Pachinko is revealed by society. Furthermore, admitting addiction to Pachinko in Japan is as shameful as admitting drug use in Brazil.

How is Pachinko played?

The machine resembles a vertical pinball machine, but it differs from the western pinball in several ways. First, a Pachinko machine uses small steel balls, which are rented to the player by the owner, while pinball games use a larger captive ball.

Pachinko balls are not only the active object, but also the bet and the prize. The player loads one or more balls into the machine, then presses and releases a spring-loaded handle, which is attached to a padded hammer inside the machine, launching the ball onto a metal track.

The track guides the ball around the edge of the playing field and, when the ball loses momentum, falls on the playing field. The ball enters the field of play where there are several cups in which the player expects the ball to be caught. There is a hole in the bottom where the ball will fall if not caught.

Pachinko guide - betting machines in japan

The objective of the game is to capture as many balls as possible. These balls can then be exchanged for prizes. The machines were mechanical, but the modern ones incorporated electronic parts.

Balls won from games cannot be exchanged directly for cash. The balls also cannot be removed from the premises, and are engraved in identifiable patterns. Balls won in the hall are exchanged for prizes or tokens, which can be exchanged for money in a separate place from the hall.

Where did Pachinko come from?

Pachinko was first introduced to Japan in the 1920s, but it only broke out after World War II, when halls began to open.

This industry has fallen somewhat since its peak in the 1990s. At that time, the government did not turn a blind eye and the industry had revenues of about $ 300 billion annually. But after a decade of decline, the sector has leveled off. There is even speculation now of a steady increase.

Pachinko guide - betting machines in japan

How are Pachinko salons managed?

Most salons are owned by Koreans living in Japan. About 30% of these owners have connections with North Korea. At the height of the industry in the 1990s, these owners were sending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

Japan has since suppressed these money transfers. However, one hears of tycoons affiliated with North Korea who still profit from it. And they are not the only ones.

For years, Yakuza has played a crucial role in the management and regulation of the sector. This task has now been taken over by the national police and there are reports of corruption and nepotism. It even jokes that the retirement of the police is Pachinko's money.

Pachinko guide - betting machines in japan

How the hell is Pachinko not considered a "bet"?

So, like this gambling game, it remained legal in a country that prohibits casinos and gambling online? It all has to do with a small extra step in the withdrawal system.

When someone ends their session, the balls they won are exchanged for a “special prize”. The prize is a card with your winning information and a small box of sweets.

Then, the person takes the card and sweets out of the room to a hole in the wall, away from the entrance. He passes them through the hole. The person on the other side who receives the "prize", hands over his winnings.

Since money is obtained through this third party exchange, Pachinko is not technically a game of chance. It is different from the typical casino games that can be found in a casino. If you want to read more about these games, read this detailed comparison.

Pachipro - Pachinko Professionals

Pachipro and Slopro are types of players who live off the income they earn from pachinko and pachislot or simply professionals in the field. In a broad sense, it can simply refer to “a person with advanced skills related to pachinko games.

Some players use pachinko as a way of life, but it is not recognized as a profession in society in general. Few can really be called pachipro, many are active in magazines and manga, but are declining in society.

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