While you’re not going to be able to indulge in casino gambling as a tourist yet, there are plenty of chances still to gamble for fun. The possible candidates to host an integrated resort with a casino in 2025 include Yokohama, Tokyo, Hokkaido, Nagasaki and Osaka, the leading candidate for Japan’s first casino resort. The new bill, however, only allows 3% of the total floor area to be used for casinos and only three IR licenses nationwide. Osaka has proposed to host the casino at an artificial island named Yumemisha where the 2025 World Expo will be.


The gambling that does exist in Japan includes sports betting, lotteries, mahjong and pachinko. As it also utilises slot machines, pachinko parlours have a very casino-like feel to it. But it is an inherently Japanese mechanical game that involves pinballs where the objective is to collects as many of these balls as possible. The highly customisable feature of the machine allows the owner of these parlours to entertain the players and gather more. The first thing to decide while visiting one yourself is choosing a machine to play in. You can pick one where 1,000 yen buys you either 250 balls or 1,000 balls with each ball valued at 4 yen and 1 yen respectively. Once you insert your money at the vertical slot of the machine placed at the immediate left, you’ll have to press the button near the counter window for the balls to start rolling out. Just below the screen is a hole where the player’s goal is to make as many balls as they can to fall. The knob of the machine projects the pinballs that bounce off the gold pins. To win, you must land the pinballs in the catcher (hole) which should then roll three reels that match.

What keeps these parlours legal? The pachinko balls can only be exchanged for prizes and not cash. But if one were to ask for the ‘special prize’ token which is a gold-coloured plastic token, you can trade those for money at any TUC shop. Just not within the pachinko parlour. Another legal option for gambling that you can try out is the mahjong parlour as there is no in-house cash gaming.

Sports Bet

Sports betting is also a popular option. You can check out soccer pools, bike races, auto races, boat races and of course, the horse races. They are government-approved as long as they are pari-mutuel. The Japanese Racing Association (JRA) have their tracks spread out in several prime locations such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Niigata.

There are no typical casinos yet in Japan, but this does not mean a tourist is without good options. While the government is still working out the logistics of having casinos around Japan, there are a few casino bars which operate within specific hours. These bars don’t have cash prizes and may require you to pay an entry fee. The fee is inclusive of food and drinks coupons and chips with which to play poker and baccarat. As one earns more chips from playing, these can be converted to more vouchers for food and drinks.