Exploring the History of Casinos in Japan: From Bans to Legalization

Japan, renowned for its rich cultural heritage and technological advancements, has an intriguing history concerning gambling and internet casino. For centuries, the Japanese people engaged in traditional gambling activities deeply intertwined with their customs and social practices. However, as history progressed, the government adopted a stringent stance on gambling, leading to a prolonged ban on casino establishments. In this article, we delve into the fascinating journey of Japan’s casinos, from ancient times to the present, as the country undergoes a shift towards legalization and regulation.

Early History of Gambling in Japan

Traditional Games and Activities

The roots of gambling in Japan can be traced back to ancient times, with traditional games and activities serving as sources of entertainment and social bonding. Games such as hanafuda (flower cards) and shogi (Japanese chess) were popular pastimes, bringing families and friends together.

Influence of Chinese Gambling Culture

During the 7th and 8th centuries, Japan’s relationship with China introduced new gambling practices, notably the game of sugoroku, an ancient board game akin to modern-day backgammon. As trade and cultural exchange flourished, so did the influence of Chinese gambling culture.

The Tokugawa Shogunate and the Ban on Gambling

With the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the early 17th century, Japan experienced a significant shift in its approach to gambling. Concerns about societal order and the potential for corruption led to a strict ban on most forms of gambling during this era.

Emergence of Modern Gambling

Pachinko’s Rise in Popularity

Despite the general gambling prohibition, certain activities survived and even thrived. One such activity was pachinko, a pinball-like game that gained immense popularity during the post-war era. Operating in a legal gray area, pachinko parlors became a mainstay of Japanese entertainment.

Yakuza and Underground Casinos

The underworld, represented by the infamous Yakuza, also played a role in perpetuating illegal gambling in Japan. Underground on-casino, operating discreetly, offered various games of chance, evading law enforcement for considerable periods.

Public Opinion and Calls for Legalization

Socioeconomic Impact of Pachinko

The widespread popularity of pachinko raised discussions about its socioeconomic effects. While generating substantial revenue and providing jobs, concerns arose over issues of addiction and the diversion of funds from other sectors.

Tourism Potential of Casinos

As neighboring countries embraced casino tourism, Japan saw an opportunity to boost its own tourism industry. The allure of integrated resorts, combining casinos with hotels, shopping, and entertainment, sparked interest in legalizing casinos to attract international visitors.

Government Initiatives and Legalization Efforts

Casino Legalization Bills and Challenges

Over the years, several bills aimed at legalizing casinos were introduced in the Japanese parliament. However, concerns over potential negative impacts and uncertainty about regulations posed significant challenges.

Integrated Resorts Promotion Law

In 2016, a breakthrough came with the passage of the Integrated Resorts Promotion Law. This legislation paved the way for the establishment of integrated resorts, marking a major step towards casino legalization.

Responsible Gambling Measures

Gambling Addiction Awareness and Support

Recognizing the importance of responsible gambling, the government initiated campaigns to raise awareness about gambling addiction and provide support services for those affected.

Age Restrictions and Entry Fees

To mitigate potential adverse effects on the younger population, strict age restrictions were put in place, and entry fees were imposed to limit access to casinos.

Current State of Casinos in Japan

Overview of Integrated Resorts

As of [current year], Japan has taken significant strides in the development of integrated resorts. Renowned global operators have expressed interest in investing in these multi-billion-dollar projects, which are expected to elevate Japan’s status as a top tourist destination.

Timeline for Future Developments

The construction and licensing process for integrated resorts is ongoing, and various regions in Japan are vying for the opportunity to host these grand entertainment complexes. The nation eagerly anticipates the completion of these projects and the influx of tourists they will bring.


Japan’s history of casinos and gambling showcases a complex relationship with the practice over the centuries. From traditional games to the rise of pachinko and underground casinos, the journey towards legalization has been rife with challenges and societal contemplation. With the passage of the Integrated Resorts Promotion Law, Japan embarks on a new chapter, balancing economic opportunities with responsible gambling measures.