Sports you can legally bet in Japan

Japan is widely known to have imposed a ban on gambling, so there are only limited sports on which you can wager. In fact, there are just four: horse racing, motor racing, bicycle racing and boat racing. Unfortunately, betting on popular sports such as European football, rugby or basketball is prohibited.

This article is going to explore why betting on these four sports is allowed and how you can go about placing a wager.

History of sports betting in Japan

Gambling has not always been illegal in Japan. But historically, the activity has always drawn controversy.

Despite the general prohibition of all sports betting in the late 19th century, it was still operated in foreign residential areas where Japanese law did not apply.

Later in 1906 the government allowed the first horse race in Tokyo, followed by the establishment of horse racing law in 1923. This helped horse racing to spread to 11 venues over the country. Ironically,horse racing became even more popular after WW2.

The sport provided residents with a means to raise money, creating a demand for workers and providing entertainment to the people. Soon after bicycle racing was established followed by motor racing and boat racing. Now there are 25 stadiums for horse racing, 43 stadiums for bicycle racing, 5 stadiums for motor racing and 24 stadiums for boat racing. Next, let’s take a look at how you can place the bet.

How you can bet on sports

Basically there are two ways to participate in betting: at venues and online. Both options are relatively straightforward.

Due to the COVID lockdown, the amount of online participants became far more significant as did the revenues generated. Despite pandemic restrictions ceasing, large numbers of visitors continue to place wagers online, while visitors at venues has decreased dramatically.

Also, a lot of young IT companies such as Rakuten and CyberAgent now provide online betting services. So it has become easier for the younger generation to become engaged. They’re also able to expand their curiosity to other sports as well. This has given rise to the term, ‘gray zone sports betting’.

According to the industry specialist from Casilife, the proliferation of sports betting in Japan could potentially have a positive impact for the country:

“Surveys and estimations have been undertaken by some of the young IT companies which indicates that huge revenues are generated by sports betting. So if the government allows sports betting on other major sports this could have an extremely positive impact on the Japanese economy, while building up the sports industry. Because of this, widespread legalization will most likely happen in the near future.”

Either way, online technology promises a bright future for the sports betting industry. And it is worth keeping an eye on how this industry will develop in the future.