Japan Legalizes Slots – What Happens to Pachinko?

japan-pachinko-vs-slotsWhile several other Asian companies are embracing the idea of casino gambling, Japan has resisted this temptation, even though they’re sitting on a multi-billion-dollar market. But that all changed this month, when Japanese parliament legalized gambling, with the law taking effect next week.

This means that for the first time ever, Japan will have legal casinos with slot machines. That said, it’s worth wondering what will happen to the country’s pachinko industry.

We’ve covered pachinko in the past, but we’ll quickly recap the game here too. Pachinko is a hybrid slots/pinball machine that sees you shoot a ball into the playing field, which has a number of pegs and 3 reels. The goal is for your pinball to trickle into the slots area, which makes the reels spin so that you can earn a prize.

For years, pachinko has been a popular form of gambling in Japan. But then again, it’s also the only type of gambling allowed beyond racing. So how will pachinko fare when major casino resorts are completed?

japan-pachinkoThere are currently over 10,000 pachinko parlors in the country right now. We assume that some of these will be forced to close when mega-resort and regional casinos are completed by 2022 or ’23. There’s only so much gambling to go around, and slot machines will take some of the pachinko players away.

But on the other hand, we don’t see this unique pinball/slot game dying out any time soon. After all, it’s ingrained into Japanese culture, and pachinko is fun on top of this.

We actually think that it’d be interesting if some of the resort casinos bring their own type of pachinko games into the fold. Of course, we won’t know if this will happen for a while because casinos aren’t set to be completed for several years.

But whenever the first Japanese casinos do open their doors, it’ll be interesting to see how the slots vs. pachinko dynamic plays out.