Most Popular Bookies in Japan

Compared to other countries, sports betting in Japan is partly legalized. Gamblers can only bet on a few sports in specific formats at land-based gambling houses. Because of the restrictive legal climate, Japanese punters have limited choices when they sign up for internet sportsbooks licensed in the country. Nevertheless, numerous international bookies accept players from Japan.

This happens since there is no active prosecution of people and entities that break the law in this northeast Asian country. The popularity of online sports betting is partly because local players can get away with playing games and bet types the government doesn't allow. A good example is fixed-odds wagering which is prohibited at Japanese online bookies.

Most Popular Bookies in Japan

While other countries provide typical betting odds like American odds and Hong Kong odds, Japan doesn't have standard odd formats for sports betting. Most sites use decimal odds. Parlay bets are the acceptable forms of sports wagering, whereby players predict two or more point spreads, under/over wins, or money lines.

With fixed odds, bettors have many options to choose from, e.g., the number of touchdowns to be scored in NFL Super Bown and individual game results. Online, Japanese players bet on a broad range of games from NBA, NHL, NFL, rugby, cricket, horse racing, football, and baseball. Boxing, eSports, and MMA are also available at online bookies.

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History of betting in Japan

History of betting in Japan

Japan has a long-standing tradition of betting even though it had been outlawed. The first instance of betting started in the 6th century. It was a popular leisure activity among the rulers of ancient Japan. Emperor Nihon Shoki gambled regularly in his royal residence. The earliest betting regulation ruled out different types of betting.

Those who disregarded the rule were whipped and punished. In the 8th century, a dice game (ban-sugoroku) that mimics backgammon was popularized by Emperor Tenmu. Literally translated, the game means double-six. But the game was officially boycotted when Empress Jito took over the throne. Then Bakuto emerged during her rule and is today known as Kyoto.

As more gamblers joined the bandwagon, violence and other antisocial activities prevailed in the country. The rulers had to intervene by establishing nine statutes to prohibit betting in the 13th century. Samurais were forbidden to indulge in games of chance in the Edo period. Only the elite samurais could gamble and drink socially.

Some forms of gambling were legalized in the early 1700s. But two centuries later, the Penal Code of 1907 prohibited all types of gambling. However, the government had to revive the lottery system after the Second World War to boost the economy that had been hit hard.

Betting nowadays in Japan

The federal government oversees all forms of horse racing through the Japan Racing Association (JRA). Betting on horse races is a bit complicated as only a few foreign horses are involved in the competitions. The restrictions are mainly due to the protectionist guidelines that prevent racing quality from rising above certain levels.

Gamblers who wish to play the ponies can only do so through JRA, which operates tracks in Tokyo, Kansai, Honshu, Kyushu, and Hokkaido. The JRA also runs numerous off-track betting establishments known as WINS. Punters can watch races on TV and bet via the internet or cell phones.

Betting on motorcycle racing, asphalt speedway, and powerboat racing is promoted throughout the country. Wagering tickets are sold in booths and circuits. In addition, online sports betting sites in Japan allow players to put their stakes on the web or mobile.

The sites are mobile-friendly, so they give the same experience as PC interfaces. This means one can make a wagering deposit straight from their comfort zone. Most punters use Safari and Chrome browsers. A few sportsbooks are downloadable on smartphones and tablets. Users access bets on popular world sports from these platforms.

History of betting in Japan
Future of betting in Japan

Future of betting in Japan

Japan has recently seen a steady increase in the number of gamblers visiting foreign betting sites. The trend is expected to continue in the next four to five years. Experts advocate for the addition of more sports betting venues. Japanese punters should, therefore, expect more exciting sports betting options in the future.

The sports betting market is gaining traction thanks to new technologies and iGaming developments. Competition among bookmakers is getting fierce, so the operators must keep their audiences entertained. Bettors should get ready for more in-play and interactive wagering options.

Sports gamification is a trend to watch in the next few years. As sports networks, commentators, and fan base continues to grow in Japan, sportsbooks have realized an opportunity for deep engagement and activity. Gamification will integrate sports, mobile gaming, and media. The new generation of sports bettors desires new experiences with authentic connections.

The emergence of streaming bundles and unconventional channels has paved the way for mobile-friendly sports betting environments. Media companies might start collaborating with sports franchises to push for streaming rights. This will enhance real-time viewerships and interactions in online sports betting platforms.

Future of betting in Japan
Betting acts in Japan

Betting acts in Japan

The 2018 Act for Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas allows private companies to provide betting services in certain regions. Also known as the Integrated Resort (IR) Law, it requires IR operators to have a license. It should be noted that Penal Code No. 45 of 1907 bans all types of betting.

Yet, the IR Act explicitly allows gambling by excluding this penal code. Even though no resort casinos have been built yet, plans to establish the first IR casino are underway.

Under the Penal Code Article No. 185, sports betting, Japanese football pools, and the public lottery are run by government corporations. In the same legal context, anyone caught gambling illegally may face a monetary fine of up to ¥500,000, unless the bets are purely for entertainment. According to this law, 'gambling' refers to an activity whereby two or more people predict the outcome of a game of chance or event, hoping to gain a prize (asset or property).

The outcome, in this case, is unpredictable and out of the participants' control. In Section two of Penal Code Article No. 186, anyone who runs a gambling place for a financial return without a permit could face a jail term of between three months and five years. A gambling place can be a physical location or a congregation of gamblers.

Betting acts in Japan
Japanese players' favorite games

Japanese players' favorite games

Japanese punters bet on various types of sports which are broadcast domestically and in other territories. Sports bets are based on the overall score. An expert guide comes in handy for those who are new to betting so they can understand how everything works. Here's a rundown of sports that Japanese players love to wager on.


While most countries major in football, Japan has a passion for baseball. The game can be likened to American baseball except for a few discrepancies. For instance, Japanese baseball is relatively smaller. The field and strike zone are smaller too. Usually, a match ends in a tie if the contenders level with three extra innings after a standard nine.

Japanese punters love to wager on local baseball matches like Puro Yakyu and international leagues such as the US Major League Baseball. The Japanese baseball league has a huge number of fans.

Boat Racing (kyotei)

Motorboat racing, which was introduced by Americans, has been around since 1952. Between 1899 and 1995, Ryoichi Sasakawa, the industrialist, set the game in motion when he reached the official level. In 1980, the boat race was designated for betting under the Japanese government.

The proceeds are distributed by the Nippon Foundation for philanthropy. The game involves male or female riders taking six-speed boats on three laps around a 600-meter circuit. Each rider is randomly assigned a boat. Boat racing bets are all about predicting a winner or the top three racers.


Football is a favorite game in Japan, with 18 soccer clubs attracting sports betting actions. Japanese players also follow international professional leagues like the EPL and global events, including FIFA World Cup.

Japanese players' favorite games
Payment methods in Japan

Payment methods in Japan

Players who want to engage in online sports betting in Japan should choose the best payment methods highlighted below.

Credit/Debit Cards

Credit and debit card payments require the input of a 16-digit card number, the expiry date, and a 3-digit CVV code. Both are useful on mobile sportsbooks. The only difference is that a debit card uses funds from a savings account, but a credit card uses borrowed money.

Their convenience lies in the fact that they are directly linked to a bank account. Before using a bank card on a Japanese sports betting site, users must check for the applicable fees.


Crypto payment is the most appealing payment method for gambling on sports in Japan. It ensures top-notch security and anonymity online. There has been a steady growth of digital coins, which explains why many sportsbooks have adopted cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin is the most widely used virtual currency and takes a few minutes to process BTC deposits. Litecoin is even faster. Nevertheless, not all bookies take cryptos, so checking before registering an account is good.


Neteller and Skrill are reliable e-wallets and provide almost the same service. Japanese bettors prefer these e-wallets to avoid sharing their bank information online. Customers can hold as much money as they wish with Skrill and Neteller and transfer the funds to an online bookie anytime.

PayPal is the largest e-wallet with more than 200 million users worldwide. Almost all Japanese-oriented betting sites accept PayPal transactions. PayPal sportsbooks have a large fan base because they provide top-notch security by encrypting sensitive data. The player checks out on a secure gateway, keeping their transaction anonymous so that no one can trach them down.

Payment methods in Japan
FAQs about betting in Japan

FAQs about betting in Japan

Why are online sportsbooks so popular in Japan?

Since land-based gambling is partially allowed in Japan, punters are left with finite options to bet on. However, online sportsbooks offer various sporting events, leagues, and matches for wagering. These sites provide competitive odds and irresistible promotions for new players. More and more bookmakers are offering betting in the Japanese language, making it easier for local players to try their luck over the internet.

What is the best sport betting sites for the Japanese?

An online bookie can be rated in terms of security, customer support, mobile optimization, payment reliability, and diversity of bets. Customer reviews can also tell the reputation of a site.

Where can one find the best odds for sports betting in Japan?

This site features a list of top bookmakers along with the best odds in the market. This information has been gathered by experts who've spent hours of research, filtering out the best odds.

Are Japanese sportsbooks safe?

The best bookmakers for Japanese players are licensed and regulated by reputable authorities. A good site safeguards user data with technologies such as SSL/TLS of the latest HTTPS.

FAQs about betting in Japan