Japan Seeks to Reduce $200 Billion Spent on Pachinko Gambling

In an effort to minimize gambling addiction levels, the Japanese government is planning restrictions on pachinko establishments and race tracks. At the same time, Las Vegas-style gaming in the country was legalized in December, and several casino projects are already in the pipeline.

The betting market in 2015 amounted to 23.3 trillion yen ($209 billion) spent on gambling at pachinko parlors, which is roughly 4% of the country’s gross domestic product.

The proposed restriction measures include limiting individual access to pachinko only to the deliberation of relatives, and setting up an independent body to oversee regulatory implementation. Furthermore, a provision to ban credit-card machines that offer instant cash loans for race-track gambling, is also under consideration.

According to Kazuaki Sasaki, associate professor of international tourism at Toyo University, pachinko operators would rather regulate themselves than be subjected to restrictive pressure from the state. He further commented that the difficulty stems from that fact that Japan currently treats pachinko as a kind of amusement. It is based on prizes which can then be exchanged  for cash at specially set counters just outside pachinko parlors.

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