Gambling in Japan has been considered illegal since the passing of the Penal Code in 1907. This banned several forms of gambling including one of the earliest games played by the Japanese, backgammon. Today gambling in Japan takes the form of sports betting, lotteries, and Pachinko (a ball-dropping game where balls bounce off pins as they fall, causing them to land into various holes representing different prizes). Gambling became very limited in Japan as it was believed that it led to higher crime rates, gambling addictions, and the formation of gangs. However, in 2018 a law was passed that legalized some more forms of gambling, like poker and baccarat, to create more jobs.
The gambling industry is a very lucrative one with much to be gained, especially for Japan as they are one of the world's leading economies. Japan's first casino will be built in the city of Osaka by 2029 — plans that come as no surprise when considering the long-seen profits from pachinko parlors and other casinos worldwide. It's estimated that Japan made around $200 billion in 2018 alone from pachinko games.
The casino has a total investment plan of 1.8 trillion yen ($13.5 billion) and will be approximately 5.3 million square feet in size, featuring a hotel, conference center, shopping mall, and museum. Japan’s hope for this casino is that it will become a huge attraction for both locals and tourists.
There have been some concerns from locals following this news, such as whether it will drive higher crime rates and gambling addictions (according to the BBC). Some have questioned the ethicality of the plan, wondering if it's right to want people to come to the country only to gamble their money away. However, when looking at the success of the Macau gambling hub in China, its safe to say Japan and its economy will vastly benefit from this casino. In 2019, Macau brought in a total revenue of $36 billion dollars and gained the attention of thousands of visitors from around the world. Although Covid has hit the travel industry since 2020, it's a likely indicator of the potential success waiting around the corner for Japan, especially with plans to drop Covid border measures from May 8th, 2023. No matter what, Japan’s first casino is something many are keeping there eyes on and is sure to be a highlight activity for tourists and locals when it arrives in 2029.