Japan home to most legal gaming machines

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
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Despite not having a casino in the country, Japan is home to more legal gaming machines than any other country in the world.

The “World Count of Gaming Machines” compiled by Australia-based Gaming Technologies Association (GTA) has classified pachinko devices as gambling terminals, however not as a form of gambling.

According to the statistical report, “Pachinko is similar to a vertical pinball game, where the ball cascades down through various pins and into certain locations that can result in more balls being released. The more balls that are obtained the larger the value of the prize.”

GTA says that the machines are included in the global tally because the merchandise won at the pachinko parlor, the items are commonly traded in for cash at adjacent businesses.

Along with pachinko devices, the report count includes slots, video lottery terminals (VLTs), video gaming machines, amusements with payouts (common in the UK and Europe), pachislot (pachinko/slot hybrids), and electronic table games.

Japan was home to over 4.3 million gaming machines in 2018. The global tally was 7,402,395 which meant the country was responsible for 58% of the worldwide supply.

The US was second at 898,974. Italy third with at 320,000 machines, Germany at No. 4 with 277,700 and Australia fifth at 196,301.

Japan, the US, and Italy have all held their positions since 2010, according to Casino.Org.

Japan is in the process of formalising regulations that will govern its impending commercial casino market. The world’s major gaming operators are finalising their bids, partnering with local Japanese companies to form consortiums in investment schemes that are expected to be around $10 billion each.

Per initial regulations that have been released by Japanese lawmakers, each of the integrated resorts must have a minimum of 100,000 square meters of indoor floor space (1.07 million square feet). The casino cannot exceed more than three percent of the footage.

Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts the frontrunners

Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts are considered the frontrunners to win two of the licenses. The Nevada-based companies are respectively focused on the Yokohama/Tokyo and Osaka locations to develop their sites.

Las Vegas Sands is set on Yokohama, near Tokyo, given the capital’s population, tourism and large pool of skilled workers. It plans to build a casino resort in the nation’s second largest city, possibly spending around $10 billion on the complex, which will include facilities for meetings and exhibitions.

Sands Managing Director George Tanasijevich, who is also the CEO of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, told reporters at an exhibition in the western city of Osaka that Yokohama is “the ideal location in Japan.”

U.S. casino operator MGM Resorts International plans to build an integrated resort in Osaka in partnership with Japanese leasing company Orix.

Ed Bowers, chief executive of MGM Resorts Japan, said the operator’s strategy in Japan is “Osaka only.” He spoke during the first joint news conference held by MGM and Orix since the tie-up was announced in March. The American company has said that it was courted by other cities including Yokohama.

Slot machines at the three Japanese casinos will increase the country’s total number of gaming positions by over 6,000.

Given casinos remain controversial in Japan with the concern they will lead to an increase in problem gambling, residents will need to pay a ¥6,000 (US $55) entrance fee.

Japanese locals will additionally be limited to a total of 10 admissions within a 28-day period. Foreigners will be accommodated with free admittance. Gross gaming revenue will be taxed at a rate of 30%.

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