Japan Has No Plans to Legalize Online Gambling

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Japan’s government has no plans to allow online gambling and plans to continue restricting illegal online gambling. 

Japan Doesn’t Intend to Legalize Online Gambling

Chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party’s National Public Safety Commission, Hachiro Okonogi, denied any speculation that Japan could legalize online gambling. He stated that the government would continue to clamp down on such illegal activity in the country.

The Constitutional Democratic party raised the question of online gambling regulation in Japan due to the increase in visits to foreign gambling sites by local residents during the pandemic.

According to Okonogi, the Integrated Resorts Development Act includes provisions on casinos, but that doesn’t include online casinos. He also stated that the police and the National Public Safety Commission would continue to take strict measures towards such activities on the internet. 

There was an illegal online casino that operated in the country, but it had to face trial in court. Online casinos do not fall under any regulation. When asked if the government would take further actions to regulate online gambling, Okonogi said that the IR Development Act doesn’t include online gambling activities because they are not currently legal.

Illegal Online Gambling in Japan Increased during the Pandemic 

According to a study by Asahi Shimbun and a Tokyo-based subsidiary of SimilarWeb, an Israeli digital analysis support company, Vera & John is the most popular casino website in Japan. The study’s results show that in December 2018, the website had 648,000 visits from Japan and 77.51 million in January 2020. In August 2020, it had 19.88 million and 49.38 million in November 2020. Many residents in Japan are unaware of the country’s laws on online gambling.

The Japanese police warn that foreign gambling websites claim to have official permission to offer their services in some jurisdictions that have already legalized online gambling, but those permits do not allow them to operate gambling products in Japan, as the activity is not illegal.

Japan’s Current Laws and Regulations on Gambling

For many years, Japan prohibited all forms of private gambling activities. The Integrated Resort Law enacted in 2016 and 2018 has allowed private operators to offer some land-based gambling activities. Only IR operators with a license can provide land-based gambling services.

Residents can bet on horse races, bicycle races, and lotteries operated by the public sector. They can bet online or purchase lottery tickets on the internet. Currently, there is no specific regulation on digital or land-based skill games. 

Recently, Wynn Resorts Ltd officially withdrew from the Yokohama bidding for an integrated resort project. However, it didn’t drop its interest in the Japanese market and is considering other options in the country. The company sees huge potential in Japan. 

Meanwhile, Japan continues to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the timeline for realizing the first of three integrated resort projects to come. Lawmakers have expressed concerns over a new Chinese law that prohibits residents from traveling abroad for the purposes of gambling.

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