The Japanese gambling culture is a complex yet interesting one. Although some forms of gambling are still illegal, you’ll find a lot of betting houses in Japan. This is because ancient Japan also had its form of gambling that served as entertainment for the people. Of course, it wasn’t known as gambling back then.
The gambling sphere in Japan, as is seen today, reflects a symbiosis of tradition and technology. To some native Japanese, the coalition between tradition and modern-day perspective/technology in gambling isn’t a good thing. In contrast, others feel the symbiosis has created a dynamic betting system that is lucrative as well entertaining. But whether you are for or against the symbiosis of tradition and technology, you’ll admit that Gambling in Japan is here to stay. And why not? People love it.
The Evolution of Gambling in Japan
According to historical accounts and records, gambling was outlawed in Japan in 1907. This doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how the Japanese value discipline, hard work, and integrity. Before it was officially banned in 1907, there were some forms of casinos and betting houses around. Still, these were mainly linked to criminal organizations (more reason why the government outlawed them).
For over a century, gambling remained largely banned in Japan. In 2016, the tide changed when the Japanese government suddenly decided to introduce the Integrated Resort Promotion Act.
The Act legalized some forms of Gambling in Japan. Today, gambling remains a grey area. However, the country is quickly catching up on finding ways to integrate their tradition into the modern gambling system. Despite this, many Japanese people still have problems finding online casinos.
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Japanese Gambling: A Symbiosis of Tradition and Culture
Since Japan passed the Integrated Resort Promotion Act, there has been an increase in casinos resorts and betting related activities. Although the practice is still not as popular as it is in many western countries, Japan is gradually opening up to the casino industry. Here are the forms of gambling you’ll find in the country.
This is arguably the most popular gambling game in the country. You might have seen it in some Japanese movies or drama series. Pachinko is just like your usual slot, it combines a slot machine, with a pinball machine. Although the game isn’t considered full-time gambling, it’s one of the few games in the country that isn’t regulated by the government.
As expected, the name of the game is in Japanese; this suggests the influence of the Japanese culture and tradition on the gambling culture.
Pachinko involves people rolling a small ball, which makes the machine spin, to give the person who got the ball the amount they are looking for. There are two forms of Pachinko – free and pay-to-play – and the winner is the player who wins the most numbers.
As with many things in Japan, the rules of this game are relatively simple. In Pachinko, players are allowed to place holes into small balls, to be able to make them into a large, solid ball. The winner is the person who can create the largest and strongest ball, so the most number generated determines the win.
Pachinko is the most traditional gambling game in Japan, but it’s gradually evolving to accommodate modern technological innovations that can better the playing system.
Horse Race Betting
Asides from Pachinko, horse race betting, is another form of sports that is almost as old as Japanese history. In many locales in the country, people prefer to bet on horses in a race to make more money. One of the best ways to experience this in Japan is to take a trip to the Nihon Wagering Hall, which is the oldest betting hall in Japan.
Horse racing can be a great way to enjoy gaming in Japan. It is also an integral part of the culture. It is common to visit the place where you bet before the race starts because these horses are considered sacred in the religion of Japan.
Japanese Poker is another popular form of gaming in Japan. Although there are no historical references to the practice of playing, Poker is believed to have developed from a version of Poker called “Maiyama”, or “The Game of Five Kings”.
Unlike the US, Japan’s gambling sphere isn’t so wide, but Japanese players still take time out to gather at night, drink, and gamble to win money. Of course, it helps that the government doesn’t outlaw it. Japanese men prefer to play it instead of games that are outlawed by the government.
Asides from Pachinko, Horse race betting, and Poker, the Japanese also play slot machines and many forms of card games such as Mahjong, Shogi, and Pai-Mai. Equally popular are Roulette and Baccarat. So, whatever you like to play, there’s something for you.
Although gambling is still a public grey area, there is no doubt that people, particularly males, love gambling. If and when you visit Japan, try to experience their gambling system, which is a trad-modern mixture; you’ll love it!