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Gambling Laws in Japan

Gambling in Japan is in general illegal under Article 185 of the Japanese Penal Code (Act No. 45 of 1907). However, exceptions from the prohibition are gambling for the purposes of entertainment (as opposed to lucrative purposes), gambling on pachinko (physical slot machines) or gambling organized by public institutions. Currently, public institutions organize the Japanese lottery and sports betting, which are regulated by the Act on Carrying Out, etc Sports Promotion Vote (Act No. 63 of 1998) and the Lottery Ticket Act (Act No. 144 of 1947). But under the new Integrated Resort Promotion Law from 2016 and the Integrated Resort Implementation Law from 2018, land-based casino gambling will also become legal. 

Although there are no specific online gambling laws in Japan, it is generally considered that online gambling in Japan also falls under the prohibition of the Penal Code unless provided by public institutions. 

The bodies responsible for regulating gambling activities in the country are the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications which deals with the regulation of the lottery, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology which supervises toto games, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry which supervises race betting activities in the country. With the new laws, the Casino Supervising Commission is expected to be established soon during 2019. According to Japanese gambling laws, minors under 18 years of age are prohibited to participate in any lotto activities.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Japan?

Partly, most forms of online gambling are illegal in Japan, with the exception of the ones organized by public institutions.

Online Casinos in Japan

Due to the previous law, there are still no land-based casinos. And although this is due to change, there will still be no online casino sites in Japan, as these remain illegal. Therefore, gamblers usually access offshore platforms that offer them a wide variety of games and opportunities, as the authorities do not have the power to act in these situations. 

Online Poker in Japan

Online poker sites in Japan are also not legal, as of September 2019. Although there are no specific Japanese poker laws, the general prohibition on gambling coming from the application of the Japanese Penal Code holds for this game as well. Nevertheless, illegal online poker, especially in international rooms, is frequently reported by the authorities of the country. 

Online Lottery in Japan

The lottery has a long tradition in Japan, being played since the 1600s. In 1945, the Japanese lottery, known as "takara kuji" (meaning "treasure lottery"), was established in order to raise funds to help with the reconstruction of post-war Japan. Unlike other forms of gambling, online lotto sites in Japan are legal, though private operators cannot offer these games. Nonetheless, players often use offshore platforms that offer bigger jackpot prizes. 

Online Bingo in Japan

Bingo is not very popular in Japan and there are no places to play the game. In this way, and even though there are no specific Japanese bingo laws, which means that the general prohibition on online gambling in the country holds for this game as well, foreign online bingo sites in Japan are the only way Japanse players have to enjoy the game. 

Online Sports Betting in Japan

Some forms of sports betting - namely toto (football lottery), horse racing, boat racing, bicycle racing, and motorcycle racing - are exempt from the prohibition on gambling coming from the Japanese Penal Code. Moreover, these games can be offered online, though only by public institutions. Thus, bettors use offshore online sportsbook sites in Japan that offer them a vast selection of sports to bet on, along with high odds. 

Online DFS in Japan

Online DFS sites in Japan are not legally regulated. There is an ongoing debate on the status of this type of game, but considering the legality of some online sports betting in the country, it is very probable that Daily Fantasy Sports would soon become legal in Japan.