Is gambling legal in Japan?

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Gambling is prohibited under Japanese law and anyone caught gambling can be punished with a fine of up to 500,000 yen. Someone who organizes a gambling group or runs a place for gambling can be punished with up to 5 years of prison.

This law prohibits the establishment of casinos but pachinko parlors have managed to thrive in Japan by occupying a grey area just outside the enforcement of this law. They do this by not offering cash payouts to clients. Instead, a customer receives a receipt which can then be traded for either prizes or gold tokens. These gold tokens can then be traded for cash at shops located close to the pachinko parlor. This legal loophole has allowed pachinko to maintain the veneer of legality and grow into a 30 trillion yen per year business.

If you have any questions about criminal law in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.