Is Pachinko Gambling in Japan?

Is Pachinko Gambling in Japan?

While pachinko is virtually unknown to the rest of the world, it’s one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Japan. Unlike in other parts of the world, gambling, both land-based and online, is banned in Japan. However, pachinko is legal, with some strings attached. While it resembles slots and games of chance in general, Japanese laws allow pachinko gambling parlors to operate legally.

Why is it like that? Well, pachinko isn’t gambling per se. As a matter of fact, many see it as a form of entertainment, even when it’s obvious that there is money to be made. You won’t be getting Yens straight from the machine, though. Parlors have managed to bypass Japanese laws easily by adopting another form of payment.

In this guide, we’re going to tell you more about it and how pachinko has flied successfully under the gambling radar in Japan for decades.

What Does the Law Say?

Most forms of gambling in Japan are fully banned. The Criminal Code chapter 23 allows for a few exceptions including horse and motor race betting. When it comes to football betting, pools, and the lottery, they are allowed but under special laws and regulations. There’s been a huge push for legal licenses and integrated casino resorts which should see the light of day very soon. When it comes to pachinko, though, you can play it legal in parlors as much as you want.

Pachinko gambling is not considered hazardous. The chance-based machines are an exception from Japanese criminal code for monetary, historical, and cultural reasons. You can find pachinko parlors anywhere in Japan. Whether you’re visiting Tokyo or Kyoto or any town, there’s at least one parlor with hundreds (or more) pachinko machines.

What’s the catch? Well, pachinko machines don’t pay in cash like slots do. Instead, the balls are used as the bet and prize. When the ball makes it into one of the catchers and hits the jackpot, players are given more balls in return. They can exchange these for cash or another prize but at a separate location outside of the parlor. If a parlor offers money in return for your bets, it would be in violation of the criminal code. In that way, pachinko parlors successfully bypass any legal obstacles.

As long as winners don’t receive cash in return, parlors are clear to operate as many machines as they want to. It has been like that for decades with tiny changes going for a complete ban on gambling in Japan. However, considering the money parlors bring in, pachinko will continue being player in the Asian country.

Legal Requirements for Pachinko Parlors

Pachinko parlors’ operations are controlled by the Entertainment Business Law. It prescribes regulations that provide entertainment services for all gambling establishments, including those that offer pachinko, pachislo, mahjongg, and game centers. All these types of businesses are aimed at adults. The law regulates them so they don’t interfere with the development of minors and keeps them in check.

All these laws and regulation are in place to deter bad morals. They aim to create a moral environment where the parlor won’t gain unfair advantage over players. In order to operate, a pachinko parlor must have a valid license. It is issued by a public safety commission present in each prefecture. This commission essentially decides whether to issue the license to a parlor after thoroughly inspecting its operations. The license will only be granted to establishments that aren’t associated with any kind of crime or criminal organization and whether the parlor is within the region prescribed in the enforcement regulations.

Of course, the parlor must also comply with numerous other regulations so it can operate legally. These include operating hours, brightness, lightning, noise, vibrations, ads, and maintenance of structures and facilities. All the game machines installed at a parlor are also subject to numerous regulations that ensure they won’t stimulate the desire of customers to gamble.

All pachinko parlors must comply with these rules or regulations or they won’t get the required licenses. All forms of entertainment for adults are regulated similarly, and if they don’t comply, they won’t be able to offer their services.

Where Are the Prizes Exchanged?

We already mentioned that pachinko machines don’t offer instant cash rewards. Instead, you use the metal balls as a bet and to play the game and you also use them as a prize.

As soon as a player is done with his session, they can exchange their balls for other rewards. There are also special prizes on offer. These are usually silver or gold items placed inside a small plastic box. You can exchange them for cash rewards at another location which must not be within range of the pachinko parlor. In that way, parlors bypass the laws and stay under the gambling radar.

Don’t worry – you won’t have to travel far to trade for rewards. These are usually small establishments located nearby. They may also be in the same building as the parlor itself, which is what modern pachinko parlors practice in 2021.

The prizes are calculated by the number of balls won during your session. In general, around 400 balls are worth 1,500 Yen. One ball is worth just under 4 Yen. If you choose to exchange the won balls for cash rewards, you should get the special prize. If you’re OK with getting other types of rewards, you can look forward to small stuff such as pencils, toys, or cigarettes, or something bigger like household appliances.

What Does the Future Hold?

The pachinko gambling industry is worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually, so there’s no question that it greatly fuels the Japanese economy. However, there have been many cases of players obsesses with these machines. It’s just as addictive as dangerous as slots, especially if players play it without strategy. That’s why the government has placed a restriction on ads and issued other regulations that aim to protect players from the dangerous of gambling addiction (even if pachinko isn’t considered gambling by law).

There has been a great push toward a pachinko parlor ban, although that’s not likely to happen. The pachinko gambling industry has suffered some hard times lately, but it has endured more serious challenges before. It has persevered at all times, giving players the entertainment they crave so much.

The Japanese government will surely continue issuing restrictions and limiting pachinko gambling in the years ahead. However, with such a massive income, it’s clear that the industry will live on for decades to come, just like it has done many times before.

The Online Pachinko Gambling Landscape

Pachinko is a game exclusively played in parlors. These are machines that are played in a specific way, with a spring-loaded handle and a field of physical obstacles the balls must pass through. That’s been one major obstacle in the race to creating a true pachinko game online.

The online pachinko gambling landscape is almost non-existent. There are no true pachinko games right now. What little we have are bonus pachinko rounds in slots or live dealer games. No true pachinko game has made the jump online, and we’re trying to change that soon.

Why is pachinko so hard to adopt? It’s because players simply can’t get a whiff of the atmosphere in a pachinko parlor. Some of the machine’s original features such as tulip catchers are also a bit hard to implement. It’s not just enough to slap a pachinko name on a slot and call it a true pachinko machine. In order to create the perfect experience, one must pay attention to many things.

Getting them all right is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Our team of experts has studied pachinko machines for a long time and managed to implement all of the most important feature. Our real pachinko gambling experience is coming online soon, and you’ll be first one to witness is.

Can You Enjoy Pachinko on the Web Just Like Online?

You can with our true pachinko web game. However, those bonus rounds in live dealer games and slots are not a great representation of what makes pachinko great. There’s a rich history beneath it and thrilling gameplay paired with sights and sounds unseen. Pachinko machines are unique and they should be completely transferred to the Internet.

With our game coming up soon, you’ll be able to experience pachinko like it was meant to be. You can try it as soon as it goes live and enjoy a unique game that plays like nothing else.


The pachinko gambling industry in Japan is a tough nut to crack. There will certainly be no changes to the legal requirement for pachinko parlors soon. As a matter of fact, the government might strengthen them further.

However, pachinko has always been staring at the face of adversity and managed to win every round. It will do so in the future too regardless of the government’s legal plans for it.