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Money Success

Japan’s Pachinko Industry to Attract Heavy Hitters from Asia

If you’ve never visited Japan, you’ve undoubtedly heard of “pachinko”. If you did visit Japan, it’s impossible not to know the word. 


Today’s, Japan’s pachinko industry makes nearly $200 billion per year, which is more than 30 times what is spent in Macau or Las Vegas combined each year. 

As expected, pachinko gamblers only exist in Japan but have grown to be a huge part of the Japanese culture. In such a way that it now accounts for 4 percent of the country’s GDP

But how has this 90-year-old industry developed so much without ever succeeding abroad? By adapting to the times and becoming an integral part of the Japanese culture. 


What’s Pachinko anyway? 

To put it simply, pachinko machines are complex pinball games. Pachinko casinos are usually filled with these noisy machines that you can hear from far away. The concept is quite simple – you throw a ball, and it bumps into pins changing its trajectory. Depending on how much power you put, the ball can be thrown more or less far at the top of the board. 

The goal? To make that ball reach certain spots. However, with time pachinko evolved from a wooden game to using metal pins and balls. Today, all pachinko machines have all different sorts of games integrated within the board. 


How does the Online Casino Market Fare against Pachinko? 

Within Japan’s casino industry, Pachinko prevails. Even with a minor decrease in popularity over the past few years, Japan’s most loved pinball-like game pastime netted 190 billion in 2019. That exceeds the industry of online gambling in the United States put together, and this doesn’t even include Japan’s legal betting on sports or proprietary national lottery.


Pachinko isn’t formally classified as gambling and is oftentimes dismissed as in industry aiming for the forgettable consumer base. As proof of its popularity, we’ve seen just how eager many gamers have been to get back into Pachinko salons during the lockdown period, with endless queues forming outside, even when it wasn’t necessarily practical or safe to do so. If the Japanese casino industry can do so great without gambling even being legalized, it could surely do well online, even with the implementation of Integrated Resorts or IR Bids still on the horizon.  

The Many Opportunities in the Online Casino Market


This brings us to the idea that the online casino world in Japan is by no means as saturated as the online gambling in United States. The good news is that the Japanese casino market will only benefit from the fresh blood in the form of non-Japanese brands, which have the luxury of delving through this market in a way that Japanese corporations can’t at this point in time.  

Since Japan’s market research and expansion businesses have been involved with this sector, we’ve witnessed a market that has gradually begun to open itself up to outsiders, forcing the concept of globalization as a way to advantage and revive the industry. We can also see that the typical Japanese consumers are more curious and ready to engage with this if information and communication around the topic can actually strike a chord and prove a deep understanding of their needs.


This might seem counterintuitive for business developers and marketers, but it can be tricky to get things right as you further away from your own culture. And it comes as no surprise why – Japan has never been exposed to colonial influence, but they still got very lucky at developing modernity on their own terms.


This means that, for the most part, it has been quite difficult to get involved in the market if you are not a native. Even so, there are exceptions to this. Success materializes when a business or a leader is willing to take time to understand how to best resonate with Japanese audiences. A good case is Japan’s pachinko industry which still dominates the gaming world even with a few alterations here and there.


Japan’s 2021 Summer Olympics is Good News for the Casino Industry 

The 2021 Summer Olympic games will, after all, bring good omens for Japan this year. The news comes from the International Olympic Committee hearing who strongly believes that the IOC will take place in about ten months. He also believes they will be open to spectators and heavy hitters from across the world.


Overall, Japan is still far off in the future as casinos from all over the country will demand a serious influx of international visitors. Instead of targeting the natives and gamblers, the casino industry will try to attract gamers from Asia. These will mainly include gamblers from China, where casinos will try to achieve global success in this field. However, for that to take place, the current restriction on all tourist influx has to come to an end. A successful Summer Olympic Games will only bring change and good news.


More Insights Surrounding Japan’s Online Casino Market

The last few years have seen an increased interest from operators across the larger gaming industry – lotto platforms, Integrated Resorts, and online casinos – looking towards the public demand from the online casino market in Japan as a growing force. The more information we gather, the clearer it becomes that even in Japan – a state that seems to be homogenized – the society is becoming increasingly multi-segmented.


Consider, for instance, the travelers who live for Japan’s trends – both in Asia and more widely abroad. Especially within East Asia, these people take Japanese trends and bring them to their own markets, knowing that:

  • If something cool happens in Japan, it will definitely be cool at home (that’s especially dominant in countries like Taiwan, China, and South Korea where Japan’s influence is strong and tourism, up until a few months back, has been booming).

  • If something seems trustworthy in Japan, it can be trustworthy at home too.

Combining Japan’s current position in the global spotlight, bolstered by ever-expanding business culture and upcoming events such as the Olympic Games, it can only mean that things aren’t slowing down any time soon.