Japanese Laws Governing Online Gambling

When it comes to gambling regulations, Japan is an intriguing country. A select few forms of gambling are legal in the country, and residents can keep their earnings tax-free. However, no statute explicitly makes online gambling unlawful.

Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status

In general, only a small number of permitted games are permissible in Japan, and only a small number of permitted athletic events are legal to wager on; anything else is considered prohibited by the government. However, there are nuances, as there are in many similar situations around the globe.

In this article, we analyze Japan’s gambling laws on a per-gambling-activity basis to find out what’s allowed and what isn’t, and where the gray areas are.


Popular casino games in the West, such as Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, and slots, had been mostly unavailable in Japan due to regulatory restrictions until very recently. This is mostly because gambling of any kind is socially unacceptable in the country, and the games in question all contain some element of luck. Therefore, Japan does not have any brick-and-mortar casinos at this time.


The first real-money casinos in Japan can now be built thanks to new legislation like the International Resort Promotion Law (2016). These changes may result in a revision of the legislation governing online casino gambling, as they are thought to be motivated by the need to create new revenue sources amid a sluggish economy.


The government of Japan is actively discouraging its nationals from using any of the many offshore online casinos that cater to Japanese players. However, legally speaking, online gambling is not prohibited.



Poker is one of many games that are forbidden in Japan; as a result, it is rarely played there except for entertainment purposes. Because of the lack of casinos in Japan, the sport of poker is not widely played in the country. It is widely believed, however, that the law will be changed to permit restricted games of poker as the country develops its first land-based casinos.


Many of the online casinos that accept players from Japan also feature poker games. As was previously indicated, there are no laws specifically prohibiting this type of internet gambling in Japan.


Another widespread pastime that is rarely played in Japan is bingo. Again, the absence of casinos throughout the country severely limits the accessibility of such entertainment options. However, many experts believe that this will change once the first physical casinos in Japan open their doors.


There are no doubt a large number of Japanese residents who like participating in online bingo games at one of the several casinos that welcome players from Japan. Despite the government’s best efforts to the contrary, it is not unlawful to play bingo games online.



Toto, which receives funding from the Japanese government, operates the country’s lottery, which is very popular among the population. The government banned lotteries in 1842, but they were reinstated in 1945 after having been in operation for hundreds of years before to that.


Scratch cards, the daily Numbers 3 and Numbers 4 games, the twice-weekly Lotto 6 and Lotto 7 drawings, and the quarterly Jumbo Lottery all offer players the chance to win cash prizes, so it’s no surprise that many people today purchase Takarakuji (lottery) tickets.


One of the few officially legal offline and online lottery games for real money, Takarakuji tickets can now be purchased on the internet, expanding the market for the lottery game.



Pachinko, a pinball-style game where balls are pushed through a complex maze of pins with the purpose of landing these balls into specified holes or catches in exchange for prizes, is perhaps the most popular form of gambling in Japan.


In accordance with Japanese legislation, all prizes must be physical products. Many pachinko parlors, however, get over this rule by opening retail outlets right adjacent to their establishments, where players can exchange their tokens for cash.


Although pachinko is one of the few legal forms of gambling in Japan, many people believe that if the country’s land-based casinos are established, pachinko parlors will witness a significant drop in foot traffic.


However, some Japanese casino game developers have built online casino slots with a pachinko motif, which have attracted a solid following among players in Japan despite the popularity of the game not translating well to online games.

Betting Regulations in Japan


Betting is permissible in Japan on the four ‘public sports’ of horse racing, bicycle racing, motorbike racing, and powerboat racing. Japanese football matches can also be bet on at some Toto booths. The Japanese Racing Association (JRA) is the primary provider of sports betting in Japan, however several other organizations, often affiliated with local governments, also offer sports betting.


In contrast to the fixed odds betting offered by most western sportsbooks, parimutuel betting is the only kind of sports betting legal in Japan. The Japanese government benefits greatly from the sports betting industry as a result of the 10–20% rake that is taken from each wager.


Online sports betting is popular among Japanese citizens who want to gamble on a wider variety of sports because it is not technically forbidden.


Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21

Despite the fact that the legal gambling age in Japan has just been decreased to 18, most gaming establishments still require their customers to be at least 20 years old. The only game where anyone over the age of 18 can play lawfully is Pachinko, which is not considered gambling in Japan.


Controlling Taxes

Winnings from the limited number of permitted forms of gambling in Japan are exempt from Japanese income tax. The government gets a percentage of all bets placed, which is why Japan’s gambling tax restrictions are so lax.


Japan’s Gambling Laws: A Brief History

Around 1907, the Japanese government passed the Criminal Code, which outlawed gambling in Japan with a few exceptions. These included gambling given by the Japanese Racing Association, which was established in the same year as the law, and other forms of gambling as specified by the government.


The government, having banned lotteries in 1842, reinstated them in 1945 to bring in much-needed wartime cash.


In 1980, boat racing was added to Japan’s tiny list of legalized gambling sports, having originally arrived from the United States in 1952. Toto was able to legally provide football betting in the country in 2001.


The Integrated Resort Promotion Law was passed in 2016, clearing the way for the legalization of IRs (land-based casinos) in the country. The government’s plans had to be postponed because of COVID-19, but they are eager to move on now.

The Basics


The regulations regarding online gambling in Japan are vague. Gambling is defined as “a person who bets a thing which is provided for momentary entertainment,” which might be interpreted to include all forms of gambling, although the terminology used to govern offline gaming in the country is vague and confusing.


To this day, only pachinko, lotteries, and the public sports of horse racing, bicycle racing, motorbike racing, and boat racing are sanctioned by Japanese law.


There is presently no regulation in Japan that makes online gambling illegal, thus many Japanese gamblers take advantage of the country’s various online casinos and sports betting sites.