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4 Things to Know Before Entering Japan’s Online Sports Betting Scene

Sports Betting in Japan is Relatively Unknown!

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Japan is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world, attracting tourists desperate to experience its unique culture. Indeed, no fewer than 3.8m people visited Japan in 2022, drawn in no small part to the wonderful food, stunning landscapes, and unique customs that make it like no other country on earth. Japan also has a rich sporting heritage, focused on some sports that might not be familiar to a wider audience. However, if you’re visiting the country and are hoping to indulge in a little online sports betting whilst you’re there, it isn’t straightforward. Whilst many countries allow sporting wagers to be placed on almost anything, there are some strict rules in Japan that all tourists must be aware of.

Popular Sports The usual sports people enjoy a wager on range from English Premier League matches to horse racing around the world, but Japan doesn’t technically allow such wagers to be placed. There are ways to circumnavigate these rules, which Japanese people will be aware of, but for a tourist, it is perhaps easier to adhere to the rules of the land. After all, if you truly wish to experience Japanese culture, then sticking to their accepted sports is a more authentic experience. That means placing wagers on a smaller selection of events, as outlined below. Soccer betting is popular in Japan, but not to the extent it is around the world. However, in 1998, the Japanese government passed a bill that allowed betting on the J-League, a competition that, for a brief while, grabbed headlines due to some big-name players, such as Zico. It's a little more low-key now, and it isn’t easy to place wagers online – you usually have to buy tickets from ‘toto’ booths or machines. Other popular sports include keirin, keiba, oto resu, and kyotei. Fear not, these are sports you’ll likely be aware of – keiba is horse racing, and it’s possible to indulge online with a Japanese Racing Association (JRA) online account. Oto resu is motorcycle racing, and again is very popular online, whilst Asashi Shimbun explains keirin is a bicycle event. It became popular purely for betting after the Second World War, but later entered the Olympics as a sport. Finally, kyotei is another sport that became popular for those wishing to place wagers and has been so since 1952. The Financial Times reveals all have been impacted by high-quality online apps which allow instant access and HD feeds.

Decimal Odds It’s important to understand that Japan usually uses the decimal odds system when placing online wagers. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, the fractional odds system is used by some outlets, but you’re more likely to see decimal odds. In decimal odds, the amount you win is your wager, multiplied by the odds. For instance, if Vissel Kobe were 1.3 to win a certain soccer game, and you played a wager of ¥10000, then you’d win ¥13000, your original stake, and ¥3000 profit.

Payment Options In Europe and the US, it is standard practise to use debit cards for payments, but in Japan, this is not recommended. In the Expatbets guide to Japanese sports betting, they explain how many banks in the country decline such transactions, tagging them as suspicious. As such, it is better to use an e-wallet, such as Neteller or Skill. These usually allow funds to be transferred from popular Japanese banks, such as Mitsubishi UFJ, Urban Banking Corporation, or Japan Net Bank.

Future Limits In 2017, the Japanese government sought to put limits on certain online sports betting providers. It was felt that there was a growing issue with sports betting in the country, as well as in-person games unique to Japan, such as the popular ball game pachinko. Regulations included the possible capping of wagers for online providers, whilst the industry also sought to remove ATMs from areas where in-person betting took place. These changes have not come into effect, and as the previously-cited Financial Times article explains, the pandemic significantly changed the way Japanese people interacted with sports betting. Many feel the industry is still at a crossroads in Japan, and those limits could once again be placed on the table if popularity continues to surge. It’s certainly one aspect of sports betting in Japan one needs to be acutely aware of.

Article written by Raye James

Exclusively for Sports Data Now

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