The Japanese and the game: habits and traditions

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Japan and the game have a very particular relationship. The country of the Rising Sun, in fact, stands out from the western world, considering most of the existing games against the law.

However, we can say that although in general gambling is prohibited by the State, there are some exceptions created specifically to circumvent the law and allow some entertainment games to be legal.

Shall we see some together?

legal games in japan

Lotteries, in Japanese takarakuji, are an example of this derogation.

There are three main types of lotteries in Japan: single number lotteries, selected number lotteries, and classic scratch cards.

The law is limited to establishing that the prize never exceeds 51% of the total sales of tickets, which can be acquired by specialized stores or vending machines.

Sports betting is another Japanese “loisir” accepted by law.

Specifically, legal bets are: horse racing, motorcycle racing, cycling racing and motorcycle racing.

The Japanese and the game: habits and traditions

Illegal Games in Japan

It may seem a little anachronistic, but in Japan all other hobbies related to the use of money and possible earnings are considered illegal and prohibited by the penal code.

Casinos are banned from the national territory, but even online ones are obviously not allowed, so much so that it is difficult as in the West, and sites that allow classic games such as poker, slot machines, card games or dice.

However, that doesn't mean they don't exist.

Organized crime manages various illicit businesses, such as betting sites, casinos and other games not accepted by Japanese law.

Some politicians have proposed over time to change these laws to be able to legally administer this sector and attract a new type of tourism as many other countries do, but the Japanese government has refused for the time being, scared of the risks and consequences that addiction to these activities could take along.

Pachinko: when Japanese tradition circumvents the law

Although it is in all respects a game similar to the classic game of chance, it is not considered as such, as it is part of a tradition that is now deeply rooted in Japanese culture.

In fact, the game dates back to World War II in the city of Nagoya and has since spread more and more.

Pachinko is played using a coin-operated machine comparable to a kind of western pinball machine.

The player must manage to make his steel balls reach some specific holes, overcoming obstacles, barriers and stakes.

If you manage to make the ball take a victorious course, you win others that entitle you to other games. If, on the other hand, the ball lands on the bottom of the wall, it is lost and the game is lost.

Pachinko guide – betting machines in japan

The most ingenious aspect of the game is not the functioning itself, but the evasion of the law against gambling: in order not to be considered as such, Pachinko cannot give money as a prize; therefore, in case of victory, tokens or symbolic prizes are received.

But these prizes can be exchanged for cash at special agencies outside the arcades, effectively bypassing the feature that would make this pastime a game of chance in all respects!

As such, however, this game also has its disadvantages, which translate into a very strong addiction in the country.

According to a 2019 study, around 900,000 Japanese would suffer from this gambling addiction closely linked to the game in question.

Rumor has it that 2023 could be the year of the first official concessions to legalize casinos, even if nothing is certain yet.

What is certain is that the Japanese are very fond of gambling and legalizing it would bring considerable revenue to the state coffers.

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