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Casinos in Japan:
While it’s unfortunate that there are no land-based casinos in Japan, players can now turn to the Internet to enjoy a huge range of online virtual casino games. Many of the world’s best online gambling sites now accept players from Japan, allowing bets to be placed using the Japanese currency Yen.
With complete access to games like Slots, Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, Baccarat, Craps, Keno, Lotto, Scratch cards, Bingo and sports betting, Japanese players can now enjoy playing for real money without having to travel to another country to experience the thrill of Web-based gambling.
Unless a government licensed site, online gambling is prohibited under Japanese law. However, the government does very little to prevent residents from betting with offshore licensed bookmakers and gaming operators such as www.Bet365.com, www.bwin.com and www.WilliamHill.com.
Such operators support the Japanese Yen (JPY), and provide fixed odds and live (in-play) betting for global sporting events and races, casino titles, poker, bingo, keno and other games. As a Japanese resident, you can open an account using your home address without fear of prosecution, with a significant amount of the population already doing so. The game of rock-paper-scissors is also popular at illegal mobile gambling sites.
Best Japanese online casinos
Depositing in Japanese currency
To start, follow our links above to sign up for an account with any of these recommended casinos and you’ll also be rewarded with some alluring welcome bonuses. Registering for an account is easy and can be done within a few minutes by providing your basic contact information and verifying that you are over 18 years of age. Make sure to select JPY as your chosen currency method.
Once you’ve signed in, head to the banking section to transfer funds to your account. Select from any of the available deposit methods (the most popular options are listed below), enter the amount of Yen you wish to transfer and follow the prompts to complete your transaction. Most deposits are processed immediately, so you can start playing casino games for real money right away.
Deposit options for Japanese players:
- The available deposit options vary from venue to venue, but you’ll commonly find these methods offered to Japanese players at our recommended casinos:
- Credit & debit cards – use Visa, MasterCard and Maestro cards to transfer funds directly from your debit account or your available line of credit.
- e-Wallets – e-Wallet services like Neteller, Skrill, Skrill 1-Tap, iBanq, ecoPayz and Moneybookers are available for Japanese players who want to keep their money in one secure venue online, to distribute funds easily to multiple sites.
- Pre-paid cards – pre-paid cards and e-Vouchers like Paysafecard (incorporating Ukash) and EntroPay provide a safe alternative to spending cash online, with vouchers purchased in real life from real retail outlets.
- Bank wire – transfer funds directly from your bank account similar to paying a bill online, but note that these payments can take anywhere from two to 10 business days to process.
- Cheque – those who prefer to keep their finances entirely offline can do things the old-school way by sending a paper cheque or international money order via post to the casino vendor, but remember to allow up to 28 business days for cheque payments to be processed.
And guess what, you can play these games for free:
If you’re new to online gambling and want to give the games a try before handing over any money, our recommended casinos also give players the option of playing games for free in demo mode. This allows you to familiarise yourself with the rules of the game and practice your strategies before risking any of your own cash.
These leading JPY casinos offer welcome bonuses that include free spins and matched deposits, so if you do decide to lay down a real wager you’ll have some extra money to play with.
Gambling laws in Japan
According to Chapter 23, the Criminal code in Japan states Gambling is illegal. However, not all forms of gambling are prohibited in the country. We clarify what forms of betting are legal in Japan and explain the current and future gambling laws.
Japanese betting laws for residents
Japanese residents are permitted to gamble on the following:
- Government sponsored lotteries
- Scratch cards
- Sports betting on horse racing, bicycle racing, powerboat racing, motorcycle racing and soccer (the J-League)
Legal forms of wagering in Japan:
Lotteries which are supervised by the government are run throughout the calendar year in Japan. There are three major types of lottery games which are regulated and legally available for residents to partake in:
- Unique number lotteries
- Selected number lotteries
- Scratch cards
Ticket prices for the above lotto games range from 100 to 500 yen, and cash prizes can reach in excess of 100 million yen. According to the laws in place for lottery games (the takarakuji law), the total prize pool must be less than 50 percent of the total sales, with the leftover profits going to local governments and charities. You can purchase lottery tickets from booths and retail stores around many cities in Japan. There is no age limit for people to participate in lottery games.
Wagering on certain sporting events is an activity regulated by the government and allowed in the form of pari-mutuel betting. Pari-mutuel betting is a system whereby all wagers placed on a certain sport or event are pooled together, and the payout odds for winning wagers are calculated in accordance with the total amount spent. Payouts are calculated by what is known as the totalisator (or Tote for short) in many other countries. In pari-mutuel betting, any taxes and the amount charged by the bookmaker (vig) are removed.
The Sports Promotion Voting Act is the legal document providing authority to the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to regulate soccer betting in Japan (known as soccer toto). Japanese residents can lawfully bet on the following soccer games: J-League Division 1, J-League Division 2, Emperors Cup, Super Cup and Nabisco Cup matches.
Japan residents wishing to bet on sports such as horse racing, bicycle racing (keirin), powerboat racing (kyōtei) and motorcycle racing (auto race), as well as soccer, can do so via official government-regulated websites, at the track/circuit in person, and via ticket booths in cities such as Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo and Yokohama. You must be 19 years and older to place real money bets on and buy tickets for public sporting events.
Pachinko – The game of pachinko is immensely popular within the Japanese culture, and primarily played at licensed gaming parlors around the country which are privately owned. A type of gambling permitted for historical, monetary and cultural reasons, there are more than 14,000 parlors across the nation. You must be 18 years or older to play pachinko – a game not dissimilar to a combination of pinball and slot machines. Players win balls which are redeemable for prizes, and these prizes (typically slits of gold) are sold for cash at neighboring outlets (usually owned by the owner of the pachinko parlor).
This round-a-bout way of turning your wins on pachinko into actual money keeps the Japanese criminal code intact, and the police and government can turn a blind eye to keep everyone happy.
In late 2015, the city of Kobe placed a ban on day-care centers from offering pachinko, card games and other forms of entertainment to their elderly patients, citing people’ s tendencies to become addicted to the gambling nature of the games as reasons to prohibit such entertainment.
Banned forms of gambling in Japan
Land-based casinos are outlawed in Japan as of late 2015, however, there is a bill in place to overturn this ban, and it is expected to pass in 2016. The bill would allow for the opening of casinos within integrated resorts – luxurious properties which would boast not only casinos and gaming facilities, but also hotels, entertainment shows, theme parks, retail and dining.
If passed, it has been predicted that Japan would fast become the world’s third-largest gambling industry in terms of revenue, behind Macau and the United States (expected to produce approximately $40 billion a year in additional revenue). The decriminalization of casinos has received support from the Japanese government, and it would significantly boost the tourism industry. However, it is unlikely any casinos would be developed in time for the 2020 Olympic Games.
While many keen Japanese gamblers head to countries with more liberal gambling rules such as Australia, China, Korea, the Philippines and Singapore, there is also a host of illegal betting which takes place within Japanese borders, and is known to be operated largely by the Yakuza (Japan’s organized crime syndicates). The Yakuza run underground casinos and traditional games such as blackjack, roulette, sic bo, baccarat and mahjong.
If the bill to legalize land-based casinos in Japan is passed, this will pave the way for a far more liberal gambling culture inside Japan’s borders, and bring about a major boost to the Japanese economy.
It has been stated that casino gaming, if legalized, would be chiefly targeted at the more wealthy popular of Japan such as foreigners, businessmen as well as tourists. In a couple of years time, Japan’s culture could shift dramatically to make way for the booming industry that is offline and online gambling.