Today, our article’s theme is all about taking a look at the gambling industry in Japan. We’re gonna chat about the top casinos available to Japanese players and touch on the methodology behind choosing a quality gaming establishment. We’ll dive into the history of the gambling industry and discuss the main legal aspects related to various games. We’ll also highlight the situation with bonuses available to Japanese players, as well as delve into sports betting, lotteries, and poker. Not forgetting the convenient payment systems that allow for quick deposits into online casinos or bookmakers, and of course, we’ll tackle the legal status of cryptocurrencies.
Best Online Casinos For Japanese People
Despite the legality of land-based casinos, online casino activity in Japan is prohibited. The legality of playing at overseas establishments remains somewhat unclear.
Nonetheless, the majority of Japanese players regularly engage in offshore online casinos that hold international licenses. In the corresponding section of this article, we’ll discuss key points to consider when selecting an online casino. But for now, let’s present to you a list of the best online casinos available to players from Japan:
Even ancient samurais in Japan dabbled in various forms of gambling. Back then, popular tabletop games like “shogi” and “go” weren’t inherently gambling until they were played for money. That’s when the first bets were made and stakes were raised. The majority of gambling activities were actually prohibited as far back as 1907. The Act No. 45 of 1907, enacted during that time, became part of Japan’s penal code. According to it, only certain lotteries, horse racing bets, and certain types of motor racing remain legal.
Throughout modern Japan’s history, attempts have been made to legalize specific forms of gambling. For instance, in 2006, representatives from the Liberal Democratic Party introduced a corresponding bill, which was later rejected due to concerns about the well-being of the Japanese people.
An interesting fact is that Japan is the birthplace of the Pachinko slot machine, which is widespread both in the country and beyond. It even has various online adaptations and serves as a bonus game in the popular gaming show “C r a z y Time” by Evolution Gaming. However, in Japan itself, it isn’t considered a gambling machine, as players receive various items as rewards, not money. Nevertheless, in Japan, there’s a practice of specialized shops located near these machines, where you can exchange your winnings for cash.
On January 15, 2016, the parliament passed a crucial bill, which was later supplemented in 2018. According to this legislation, land-based gambling became legal under the condition that gaming machines and tables were situated directly within casinos. The casinos themselves must be located within designated tourist zones.
Legality and regulation of gambling
Right now, according to Article 185 of the Japanese Penal Code and the Law on the Development of Specific Complex Tourist Facilities, the following gambling activities are completely legal:
Betting on certain types of sports – horse racing, bicycle racing, powerboat racing, and motorcycle racing
National lotteries – conducted by government organizations
Land-based casinos – provided they are located within designated tourist zones
All other forms of gambling are considered illegal and unregulated. Nevertheless, many Japanese folks often take a chance and play/make bets at foreign casinos and bookmakers, but they do it at their own peril.
Choosing the best online casinos in Japan
In this chapter, we’d like to spill the beans on what aspects you should focus on when picking an online casino. First off, you gotta find out if the casino is licensed and whether that license is up-to-date. You should also read player reviews. Next, check out the bonus policy and make sure the casino offers convenient payment systems. Lastly, clarify whether their customer support is available 24/7 and if they speak Japanese. Now, let’s delve into these aspects in more detail.
Legality and Safety
Since there’s no local license in Japan, players have to rely on international gambling commissions like MGA or Curacao. To see if a casino is licensed, scroll down on their website and look for the relevant information with a link to the license page. If there’s a valid license, you can rest assured about the fairness and security of the game.
Reading user reviews can quickly paint a real picture of the casino. How often players run into issues and how promptly the casino resolves them is a key aspect that distinguishes a good casino from a mediocre one. You can read reviews in Japanese on specialized platforms dedicated to online casinos, like internetcasinosites.org/ja/reviews.
Bonuses & Promotions
Players from Japan can enjoy any bonuses offered by the casino. These range from welcome packages for newcomers to regular reloads and special cashback systems. We always highly value a casino’s generosity and its loyalty towards players. Consequently, those sites that offer the most favorable conditions for players rank high in our ratings.
The simplest way to top up your account in an online casino is by making a deposit with a bank card. However, that’s not always possible as your bank might block such transactions. In such cases, electronic wallets and cryptocurrencies come to the rescue. A good online casino always offers a wide variety of different payment systems for your convenience.
Getting the lowdown or helping you sort out a snag – that’s what customer support is all about. In the top-notch online casinos that welcome players from Japan, their support isn’t just speedy and helpful, it’s also fluent in Japanese. After all, without that, a high level of communication with the player is a no-go.
As you know, Japan is at the cutting edge when it comes to mobile technology. As a result, many Japanese players prefer to play at online casinos from their smartphones. That’s why we hold sites in high regard where their mobile adaptation is on point. If you’re picking a casino yourself, we recommend you first check out its mobile version, especially if you plan to play from your phone.
Bonuses and promotions for Japanese players
As mentioned before, Japanese players can reap all the benefits of the bonus policy. This includes special goodies for newbies as well as regular rewards for frequent players. It’s worth noting separate ranking systems and regular races and tournaments organized by both providers and the casinos themselves. Now, let’s dive into the main types of bonuses using specific examples.
The welcome bonus is a certain package that often extends over several initial deposits. It includes a boost to the deposit amount or a set number of free spins, and often, it’s a combo of both.
Regular Player Bonuses
Regular players are in for various weekly reloads and special cashback systems. In some casinos, you can also find special activities like roulette or “wheel of fortune.” And don’t forget about ranking systems where you earn points for each spin and get sweet rewards upon reaching a new level.
Races and Tournaments
Races and tournaments are regular events organized by the casino and providers. Anyone can join in, just hit the registration button and start playing the slots on the list. For every action, whether it’s just a spin or hitting a high multiplier, you rack up points. The more points you have when the tournament ends, the bigger the reward. In the 1xslots casino, currently, the following tournaments are available:
Phenomenal May – a tournament from the provider Spinomenal with a total prize pool of €60,000, consisting of 4 stages, each with 100 winners
May the Wins Be with You – a tournament held in Wazdan provider games. The total prize pool is €40,000, distributed among 2000 winners.
Generous Wins – for every €1 bet on a specific list of slots, players earn 100 tournament points. There are 3 prize places in total, sharing the overall reward of €4,000.
Drops & Wins – a special series of tournaments from Pragmatic Play, conducted in both its slots and live games. There are 2 prize pools for slots and live dealer games respectively. Each prize pool amounts to €500,000.
Sports betting in Japan
Sports betting is kind of legal in Japan. According to the constitution and criminal legislation, the following types of bets fall under the fully legal category:
Betting on horse racing – as long as it’s done at official racecourses
Betting on bicycle races – this covers only licensed racing tournaments
Betting on motorcycle and motorboat races – these are traditional Japanese sports where betting is permitted
All other types of sports betting are off-limits. Nevertheless, many Japanese folks prefer to put their money on other sports. You can make it happen through offshore bookies that cater to Japanese players. Some of the popular ones include Bet365, LVbet, EnergyBet, TonyBet, and a bunch of others.
As for the sports scene itself, it’s pretty happening in the Land of the Rising Sun. That’s because the Japanese love their competitions and also care about staying in good shape. Some of the most popular sports include:
Baseball – a sport that’s pretty much unofficially the national pastime. It was imported to Japan back in 1873 and has been a big hit ever since. The country has its own baseball league, founded in 1936, and a thriving youth baseball scene. Consequently, there’s a slew of world-class athletes, and the Japanese are regulars in watching major tournaments on TV or online, and often head to the stadiums.
Sumo – a traditional martial art with deep religious roots. Tournaments for this discipline gained popularity as early as the 17th century and they’re still going strong. The country hosts 6 major championships in 4 different cities each year. The strongest fighter is crowned with the title of “Yokozuna.” In this sport, there are no weight categories, but often the fighters are pretty hefty. However, size isn’t always the ticket to victory; sometimes, smaller athletes with agility and speed come out on top.
Football (soccer) – this classic sport was introduced to Japan in the late 19th century by British Lieutenant-Commander Archibald Lucius Douglas. The first football associations only popped up in the 1920s, and the national team was formed in 1936. A recreational league of 8 teams was set up in 1965, and by 1992, the first full-fledged professional league (J.League) was established. The national team often makes it to the finals of the Asian Championships and takes home various medals. That’s why football gained widespread popularity in Japan.
Tennis – just like with football, tennis started gaining traction in the late 19th century. It became part of mandatory physical education in many schools. Japanese tennis players are considered pretty strong contenders on the global stage. They frequently bag gold medals at the Olympics and major international tournaments. Names like Kei Nishikori are familiar to tennis enthusiasts beyond Japan.
Golf – until the early 20th century, golf was seen as an “elite and Western expatriate pastime.” But things changed in the 1940s when over 70 golf courses popped up across the country. The renowned Japan Golf Tour, founded in 1973, is the world’s third-largest tour after the PGA and several European tours. Japan has produced quite a few top-tier golfers, like Hideki Matsuyama, who even managed to win the U.S. Masters tournament.
Convenient payment systems
Japan is at the forefront when it comes to banking and e-commerce development. This leads to a wide variety of payment systems that you can use to make deposits at online casinos. It’s pretty crucial because not all Japanese folks fancy using their bank cards for deposits, and these transactions can sometimes be a pain in the neck. Check out our lineup of the most popular payment systems you can use to top up your online casino account:
Visa/MasterCard/JCB bank cards
A simple and handy method since most grown-ups in Japan own these cards. Quick deposits, low fees, and a good level of reliability are the main perks of this method. On the downside, not all banks green-light such transactions, so even if you manage to fund your online casino account, cashing out might not always be a breeze due to banks keeping tabs on these types of transactions.
A special payment system often favored by gamblers across Asian countries. Easy registration, convenient top-ups, and the ability to send funds worldwide. It’s a solid alternative to bank cards since most casinos accept this deposit method.
A well-known e-wallet that operates all over the globe. After a swift sign-up and simple verification, you can fund your account in any way you find convenient, like directly from your card. From there, making deposits or withdrawing funds from online casinos is just a click away.
Another well-known e-commerce service that acts as a middleman between your bank and online casinos. You can create an account, then link it to your bank account or card. Once that’s set up, you can fund your online casino or bookmaker account, sidestepping the hassles tied to your bank.
A recommended deposit method as cryptocurrencies are legal in Japan, which means you can easily buy them and then use them for online casino deposits. The fast speed and low fees are the main selling points of cryptocurrencies compared to fiat money.
NOTIFY Cryptocurrency is defined by Japanese law as a method of payment that isn’t denominated in fiat currency and can be used for various transactions. This means you’re legally free to buy and sell cryptocurrencies for speculative/investment purposes, as well as use them for online payments, including depositing at online casinos.
Popular gambling providers in Japan
In Japan, the spotlight is on the most famous game providers who churn out top-notch games covering various themes. Their games blend extensive development experience, a creative approach, and a fresh market perspective. All of this helps the key players in the market gain the support of Japanese gamers. Now, let’s roll out a brief list of Japan’s most popular providers:
A well-known Swedish developer that’s been around the block for quite some time. They’ve rolled out over 300 different games, with a big chunk of them being video slots. Their wide thematic variety and the presence of intriguing branded products have given them a prime spot in the Japanese market.
A relatively young provider that’s managed to carve out a recognizable name in a short span. All thanks to their bold and innovative solutions that have won them player support from all over the globe. They dish out both slots, with the interesting Bonanza series standing out, and various live dealer games, including popular game shows (Sweet Bonanza Candyland).
The granddaddy of developers, based on the Isle of Man. Their games are known for massive progressive jackpots that any player can potentially score. They’ve got a whopping 500+ products, promising diverse thematic designs and intriguing game mechanics.
The heavyweight champion of live dealer table/card games. The fascinating Lighting game series has struck a chord with players, and their special game shows like C r a z y Time and MegaBall have positioned them as the crème de la crème of live game developers.
One of the pioneers, they were among the first to integrate direct cryptocurrency play into their games. This move earned them a significant following in the crypto community. Despite not churning out a massive number of slots over their ten years of active development, all their games are brimming with an engaging atmosphere and unconventional game mechanics.
Land-based casinos in Japan
The decision to legalize land-based casinos in Japan was quite recent, and consequently, major gaming centers haven’t sprung up yet. Japanese casinos mostly take the form of small clubs, focusing on various card games like poker and baccarat. These clubs typically charge an entry fee for gameplay, and you can purchase chips to play with.
One such establishment is Casino & Bar Paraja, nestled in Tokyo, the Japanese capital. They regularly host various tournaments and cash games, with poker stakes ranging from $2 to $5. Upon entry, you can buy a specific amount of chips at the following prices:
Number of chips
Beyond poker, Paraja Casino also offers blackjack tables with a minimum bet of $20. Apart from table and card games, Japan is wildly fond of Pachinko, a game that isn’t classified as gambling since direct money play is prohibited. Nonetheless, players often skirt this restriction by exchanging their winnings for real funds. Over 100,000 of these machines dot Japan, making them practically ubiquitous in any city.
On the flip side, the shady underbelly of the gambling scene involves underground casinos, and there are quite a few of them in the country. Official information about them is hard to come by for obvious reasons. They’re controlled by the Japanese Yakuza mafia, so we strongly advise against venturing into such places. Fair play at these establishments is questionable, and you might end up in serious legal trouble.
Lotteries and other gambling entertainment in Japan
Lotteries are the hottest gambling game in Japan, attracting players from all corners of the country. These lotteries are owned and operated by the state itself. There’s a plethora of different lotteries in the country, and we’re about to spill the beans on the most popular ones.
Takarakuji Loto 6 – a ticket for this lottery sets you back 200 Yen, and the draws go down twice a week: on Mondays and Thursdays at 18:45 local time. Once you’ve snagged a ticket, you’ve got to pick 6 numbers from 1 to 43, or you can roll with a random number generator. For an extra fee, you can choose up to 17 numbers on a single ticket, giving your odds a turbo boost.
The starting jackpot is a cool 200 million Yen. If no one nabs it, the loot rolls over to the next round, ballooning up to a max of 600 million Yen. You’ve got to be at least 20 years old to play. There are 5 different prize categories, depending on how many matches you score.
Number of matches
Chance of fallout
1 : 6 096 454
5 + bonus ball
1 : 1 016 076
1 : 28 224
1 : 610
1 : 39
Takarakuji Loto 7 – a slightly pimped-out version of the previous lottery, with a ticket price of 300 Yen. After you’ve laid down your cash, you need to pick 7 numbers from 1 to 37. During the draw, 2 bonus balls are drawn, adding extra spice to the secondary wins.
The minimum jackpot sits at a slick 600 million Yen, and just like the previous case, if nobody nabs it, it rolls over to the next round. The max jackpot stacks up to a billion Yen. Since the total number of options isn’t sky-high, jackpots pop pretty frequently, usually once a month. This lottery dishes out 6 prize categories:
Number of matches
Chance of fallout
1 : 10 295 472
6 + bonus ball
1 : 735 391
1 : 52 528
1 : 1127
1 : 72
3 + bonus ball
1 : 39
Various card games have struck a chord in Japan, like poker and baccarat. The Japanese government is fairly chill about them, so there are plenty of gaming clubs around where you can indulge in these games. However, playing for real cash is a no-go, but there are some workarounds that organizers and even major poker rooms exploit. Take, for instance, the renowned PokerStars, which is part of the grand Japan Poker Tour, where entry demands cold, hard cash. Winners walk away with all sorts of gift packages, which can cover lodging, flights, and even entry into other big-time tournaments outside Japan.
Online poker, technically, falls into the illegal zone. Nevertheless, there ain’t no roadblocks to playing in offshore poker rooms like PokerStars, Full Tilt, PartyPoker, and GGpokerok. They’re welcoming Japanese players with open arms. The only hiccup is depositing with your plastic cards. Typically, Japanese banks give the cold shoulder to such transactions. But fret not, there’s a solution in the form of e-wallets, like Skrill or Neteller, as well as cryptocurrencies.
Reliability and safety of online casinos in Japan
Since online casinos are a no-go in Japan, funding them with your bank card might stir up some trouble. But for the rest of the deal, there shouldn’t be any issues. Yet, players are still sweating over the question of online casino reliability: “How to steer clear of foul play or cash-out hitches?”
First off, it’s wise to stick with only the vetted online casinos, the ones waving active licenses from the big regulators. We dished out that list at the start of this article, along with some pointers on what to watch out for when picking your game spot. Secondly, you can always reach out to the gaming commission directly if you’re caught in a jam with an online casino. You can dig up their site or drop ’em a line via email.
To wrap things up, let’s give a nod to the fact that the gambling scene in Japan is a bit of a head-scratcher. On one side of the coin, a hefty chunk of it is a no-fly zone (online casinos, online poker, sports betting), but on the flip side, they’re making strides toward legalizing land-based casinos. Some sports betting lanes also steer within the legal lane, alongside various lotteries and pachinko machines.
So, in a nutshell, Japan’s at the “starting line,” aiming to ease its gambling laws. Thus, in the near future, we might just witness the gambling scene in this country reaching new horizons.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are online casinos legal in Japan?
Technically, they are illegal. However, many players have no problem playing at foreign online casinos that have international licenses.
Can I bet on sports in Japan?
Only betting on horse racing and some racing sports are officially legal. Other sports are in the shadows, so you can bet on them only through offshore bookmakers.
Are there any land-based casinos in Japan?
Land-based casinos were legalized relatively recently, so now there are almost no large gambling establishments in the country. They are mostly small clubs where you can play table and card games.
What is the situation with poker in Japan?
Offline poker can be played in specialized clubs, as well as on major poker tours, such as the Japan Poker Tour. As for online poker, the situation is similar to online casinos. Technically it is illegal, but many foreign poker rooms actively accept Japanese players.
What are the methods of deposit to online casinos from Japan?
Since depositing with bank cards does not always work, it is worth paying attention to various e-wallets. Another convenient option is cryptocurrencies, as they are completely legal in Japan.