By Okumura Yuuki
If you happen to be in Japan and you’re hoping to find your way into a friendly casino where you can have some fun and play the tables, then I am sorry to say, hard luck. Japan, like many countries, has stringent laws that prohibit playing for money.
In fact, you will not find any traditional casinos in Japan and the closest thing you will find resembling a gambling venue is a Pachinko parlor.1)Pachinko (パチンコ) is a mixture of a slot machine and pinball. The player controls the speed of the many small steel balls that are thrown into the machine. Pachinko machines can be found in Pachinko parlors across the country of Japan.
Citizens are also legally permitted to bet on only four “public sports”, including horse riding, bicycle racing, motorbiking, and boat racing. The lottery is also popular in Japan, where only one Japanese online gambling portal, called “Toto”, is legally licensed.
The Rise of Online Casinos
With those restrictions in place and with the Japanese people’s known passion for gambling, offshore online casinos detected the enormous untapped market that has a massive revenue-generating potential. Needless to say, they seized the opportunity, and a vast industry was born.
The industry is booming so much that there are now more than 50 online casinos catering to the Japanese public’s needs. They provide numerous activities, such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Video Poker, Stud Poker, and many more.
Is That All Though?
Well, there are several other factors that pertain to the growth and sustenance of the industry:
- Gambling and online casinos are receiving massive support from important stakeholders in the gaming ecosystem.
- Legislators and policymakers in Japan are interested in using online gambling activities to promote travel and tourism and boost the entertainment industry.
- There is growing offshore and onshore interest in investing in this booming industry.
- Venus Point (An online payment processing system): This system definitely has a significant role in boosting Online casinos in Japan. It allows its clients to make their transactions using the point system. Players can make fast and easy deposits and withdrawals without the need for a credit card. There is no doubt that it is making it swift and effortless for prospective gamblers to get into the game and current ones to stay and play more.
- Online Mobile casinos: Most of the Online casinos can be accessed via smartphones. The player can choose to play on the phone’s browser or download iOS or Android apps. The apps tend to be very user-friendly and fun to use. That, paired with the convenience of playing on-the-go, seems to fuel the already addictive tendencies of gambling. Online casinos are almost devilishly creative in attracting prospective gamblers, alluring them with many possibilities and perks, and getting them hooked.
The Pull of Online Casinos
With years of experience under their belt, it seems that online casinos have mastered the game of gaining and retaining clients. Their attraction for new players is quite unmatched in the Japanese market. Here’s what you can expect them to offer:
- The widest variety of game choices.
- 24/7 customer service that is easy to access and very attentive!
- Loyalty and VIP programs that retain existing players.
- Registration bonus
- Other hefty promotional rewards and attractive bonuses
And of course, every casino wants to make their offer more attractive than the competition. For example, Vera and John casino offers a $35 sign-up bonus that doesn’t require any deposit from the player. It also offers a $1,000 deposit bonus on the first three deposits. These numbers just show how far casinos are willing to go to get new players on their virtual tables.
We can’t talk about this without mentioning that Japan is looking into implementing a less restrictive gambling environment with plans for Osaka to emerge as a casino hub. The plans will make Osaka home to three resorts with integrated casino facilities.
And while the Osaka authorities have extended the date of the proposal submission, one can not help but wonder if these plans will create a threat to the growing Online casino market if they materialize. Will on-land casinos halt the growth of online ones or even shrink the industry?
Well, we will have to wait and see, but for now, all we can say is that the popularity of online casinos in Japan continues to grow at lightning speed.