Japan remains one of the largest, if not the largest, untapped gambling markets in the world, in regards to both the online and offline sectors for domestic companies. This dominating world economy is home to millions of committed gamers and lovers of arcades, yet the country’s government has remained hesitate to relax Japan’s strict non-gambling policy, which has prohibited all forms of money gambling since 1907.
A testament to this potential gambling market is the continued popularity of the game Pachinko in Japan. This popular game machine, the only legal activity of its kind within Japan, is a cross between bingo and a slot machine. Although this game does not officially give cash rewards, instead offering prizes, the ability to exchange these prizes for currency has led it to become a lucrative property, eclipsing the profits of Las Vega’s casino industry five-fold.
Furthermore, whilst domestic companies are not allowed to produce their own online casinos, the country does not officially prohibit foreign examples from being played. This has led to international online casinos, such as 32Red, to reap the rewards of a demanding but under-provided for audience by providing Japanese-language versions of their various authentic casino games. Japanese companies are desperate for the policy to be changed, keen to replicate the success of these online casinos and reclaim the domestic market from these international giants.
The global gambling industry is worth about $800 billion dollars with the online sector of this juggernaut contributing a rising amount to the total. The increasing nature of this digital industry’s profits being down to a maintained surge of both casual and professional users. Indeed, many committed online gamblers are now making successful full-time careers out of their former pastimes. It was only this year that Swede Martin Jacobson won the World Series of Poker’s top prize of over $10 million dollars, despite having trained himself up completely online.
So, with Japan proven history of technological excellence meaning it is natural to assume they could potentially eclipse the authentic interfaces, real time dealers and lucrative bonuses offered by online casinos like 32Red. This digital expertise combined with a ready-made audience of skilled and dedicated gamers in desperate need of a gambling fix means it is only natural that domestic companies what a slice of the virtual pie.
However, these companies’ hopes are likely to be dashed yet again. A revised bill has been rumoured since 2012, yet as recently as October the legislation was once again delayed. This time, the delay was down to a series of scandals rocking the Japanese cabinet, with two ministers resigning in dubious circumstances, which meant that the new bill has been put on the back burner until the political situation stabilises. This is not just a blow to Japan’s future online gambling enterprisers but the county’s economy in general. With Japan’s economy suffering a shock recession in recent weeks, the added boast that entering this expanding global industry could give to this still major market could prove decisive in coming months.