Active players: 15.000.000
Currency: Japanese yen (JPY)
Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, casinos, lotteries
Designated authority: No designated gambling authority
Operator types: Slot machine shops, online lotteries, unlicensed online bookies and casinos
Japan is an East Asian island country, with a vast 125 million population. It has a rich history, from the great samurais to World War II and beyond. Since 1947 it has been under a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Japan has the world's highest life expectancy and ranks 2nd on the Human Development Index for Asian countries. Locals are huge sports fans, loving baseball (yakyu), football, tennis and golf; while placing their bets on Japan sports betting sites. Sumo, of Japanese origin, is also very popular too.
As for gambling in Japan; a rather unique as well as complex situation applies. Despite the Penal Code defining gambling to be illegal, many forms are actually taking place and locals are avid gamblers. From the popular pachinko, to sports betting, to Japan casino; gambling never stops. The general notion is that if a player gambles online, especially at an internationally licensed bookmaker, no restrictions shall apply. So, several international betting sites are accepting Japanese bettors.
Gambling in Japan - 5 things to know
- Only specific forms of sports betting are allowed and regulated
- Up until 2019 no casinos were allowed in Japan
- Pachinko slot machines are extremely popular and legal too
- Cryptocurrency gambling is constantly on the rise among locals
- There are no reports of online gambling restrictions imposed by the local authorities
Best sports betting sites in Japan
The following shortlist contains the best betting sites that operate in Japan. They stand out for their high baseball & football odds and for offering the Japanese language, as well as the JPY currency.
Online gambling in Japan: The legal framework
Chapter 23 of the Penal Code of Japan states that gambling is illegal. However, the law dates back to 1907 and it is vastly outdated. With no proper modern gambling framework, there are exceptions everywhere you look. As a result, some forms of sports betting are actually legal. More specifically, you can legally bet on the so-called “public sports”. These are horse racing, motorcycle racing, bicycle racing and powerboat racing. They are legal under both local (municipal) and nationwide Japan gambling laws. All of them take place in the form of parimutuel betting.
Moreover, a law from 1998 has allowed betting on Japan J League football games. Not proper betting as we know it though. More specifically, there is a toto and a mini toto available, both on pre-decided fixtures. The first one expects players to predict the outcome of 13 games, while the mini one drops down to just 5. With a very small stake, players get the potential to win millions of yen. However, it is actually as difficult as it initially sounds. One may buy toto tickets online, as well as at convenience stores and street stands.
Online gambling in Japan is typically illegal too. So, there are no licensed online bookmakers. Casinos were illegal too; until a 2016 law directive set the framework for their operations. Just a couple of years ago, it was decided to finally allow the issuance of casino licenses all over the country. And not just for one Japan casino resort, but for three. Still, in 2021, no casino Japan has opened its doors to gamblers yet. On the other hand pachinko, the local form of slot machines, already has millions of fans. Locals can play pachinko in parlors throughout all major cities. Lotteries are also legal; however not as popular as other forms of gambling in Japan.
What should players know about gambling taxation
There are no betting shops in Japan; apart from the stands that sell toto betting tickets. As for online casino, Japan offers many decent options. Japan sports betting does not draw much of the authorities’ attention. However, a VPN is still strongly advisable. That is because it is better to lay low and add some extra security to your online betting. Winnings from gambling in Japan are listed as income. More often they are considered as temporary income, instead of miscellaneous or business income.
Players must declare all winnings. An annual profit of 500.000 ¥ is the limit. If one’s profit exceeds that amount, per year, it will be up for taxation. This typically applies to online betting Japan too; however, it is definitely more difficult for the authorities to monitor and track down your online activity. Therefore, you should be cautious on your online transactions and avoid bank transfers. Last but not least, since the beginning of 2021, foreign players should not have their casino winnings taxed. The only thing is that the casino resorts have been given the green light, but have not been built yet.
Sports betting Japan
Sports betting in its classic form is illegal in Japan. Concerning football, you may only participate in a couple of parimutuel betting types. These are the exceptions to the rule. Specific events are picked by the state provider, containing 5 or 13 football matches. Players then need to predict the outcome of the games, and if they do so, they share a 70-80% of the gathered stakes. As you may guess, it is much more difficult to win this way. And the thing is that up to 2018, not even the local J.League was included and no football betting could legally take place.
A very vivid local tradition in racing has formed the other exception to the general ban on gambling. Bicycle racing, horse racing, motorboat racing and auto racing are all up for betting. That is also in a tote style, yet again. Non-arguably around sport betting, Japan has a very unique landscape.
However, online betting in Japan is another thing. With little supervision by the authorities and a very high percentage of locals having internet access, it is thriving. Mobile betting is also on the rise, since the country also boasts one of the highest percentages of mobile internet usage worldwide.
Bet Japan: How to deposit at online bookies
Online betting in Japan is typically illegal. Local banks though are aware of the many bettors going online and do apply several restrictions. Thus, you should avoid transferring funds directly from a bank account or via credit/debit cards to your online betting account.
A very common and safe method are e-wallets. Sticpay, Jeton, WebMoney and ecoPayz are all offering their services in Japan. They allow you to stay under the radar and transfer money to and from your gambling account without showing where it actually derives from. iWallet, the local e-wallet, is another great option. However, it is relatively new. So, not many Japan betting sites are offering it for the time being, but it is steadily gaining its market share.
Υou may also use mobile payments, like MuchBetter, or LINE Pay and Rakuten Pay which are very popular among Japanese bettors. Prepaid cards, such as Astropay and Vanilla Visa, constitute another alternative. Nonetheless, they do not allow withdrawals. This means that you will have to withdraw straight to your bank account, or, resort to an e-wallet yet again.
There are a couple of local payment methods too that are slowly expanding to the online gambling scene. JCB credit card is hugely popular and lots of online bookies accept it. Just look for the JCB logo on their payments’ list and start using it. However, your bank might ask for details when money comes through from them.
Moreover, many players use Venus Point. This is a local payment processing system that allows them to purchase points from local stores. These points can then be exchanged into real currency online. It is very convenient for those who can't get a credit card, or simply want to avoid using one. Jbanq, the local bank transfer method, is also very common. It is however working only in conjunction with a domestic bank account.
Japan is probably the world’s most progressive nation concerning cryptocurrencies. Nevertheless, progress has come with regulation. Under the current Payment Services Act, cryptos are considered to be legal property. Income from transactions of any kind made with cryptocurrencies is considered to be 'miscellaneous income'; so, it gets taxed as such.
Reports indicate that for Bitcoin, Japan is the largest market worldwide as it stands. Ethereum Japan is also very popular; as are Dogecoin, Litecoin, Tron, Ripple and Tether. Crypto seem to be the future in the Japanese gambling landscape, probably more than in any other place in the world.
We know that placing your bets online while using your own currency is very convenient. So, below you can check the complete list of online bookmakers offering the JPY currency.
The recent decision to allow the construction of three casino resorts is a game changer. A few years back, no one could have expected such a move. It is probably because local authorities have come to realize that, with such a huge internet penetration and growing numbers of online providers, a change in legislation might be beneficial. That is because the state could face a win-win situation if online as well as land-based gambling were eventually legal.
More specifically, on the one hand the state would continue to protect players against gambling addiction by regulating the market. And on the other hand, it would make hundreds of millions of yen through taxation. We have to wait and see if this recent Japan casino legalization was just a spark, or if the fire will expand to the gambling industry as a whole.
After analyzing in detail the local gambling market, we now list all the available online bookies that accept Japanese players.