Land-based gambling


What types of land-based gambling are permitted in your jurisdiction, and is gambling regulated at a national or subnational level?

There are certain land-based gambling activities run by public institutions under the supervision of certain governmental organisations. This category of gambling includes:

  • lottery (takara kuji);
  • toto (football lottery);
  • horse racing;
  • boat racing;
  • bicycle racing;
  • local horse racing; and
  • motor-cycle racing.

There is special legislation for each of these gambling businesses, and a special corporation established under this legislation or supervised by a governmental organisation that runs these gambling businesses.

Also land-based casino business will be operated by private sectors in the future. Casino business licences will be granted only to IR operators certified by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism under the IR Implementation Act and not to stand-alone casino business operators (non-IR operators). To qualify as a licensed casino business operator, an IR operator needs to operate several facilities, such as convention centres, recreational facilities, tourist facilities, accommodation facilities as well as casinos.

Establishment licensing

Please describe the licensing criteria to operate land-based gambling of each type or classification. Does your jurisdiction limit the number of available licences?


Under the IR Implementation Act, the maximum number of certified IR areas is three (which number will be reviewed seven years from the date when initial certifications are issued). Each IR area may have only one casino, which will be operated by one casino business operator.

An IR operator will file with the Commission an application for a licence for operation of a casino business and the Commission will examine whether such applicant satisfies certain eligibility criteria, such as its capability to operate a casino business in terms of human resources, social credibility, financial stability, anticipated profitability, the floor area for casino activities, the technological quality of the casino facility’s structure and equipment, the technological quality of the casino related equipment, and certain other factors. In the case that the IR operator satisfies these criteria, the Commission will grant a licence for casino business operation.


Pachinko and pachi-slot are the only forms of gambling that private entities are allowed to operate by obtaining a licence in Japan.

The offering of pachinko or pachi-slot is categorised as carrying on an entertainment and amusement business under the Amusement Business Act, which requires a licence to be obtained from the local public safety commissions under the Amusement Business Act.

The possible locations for a pachinko parlour are limited. In principle, opening a pachinko parlour in a residential area is prohibited. Additionally, a pachinko parlour cannot be located within a certain distance from the following, among others:

  • schools;
  • universities;
  • hospitals;
  • public libraries;
  • nursery schools;
  • kindergartens; and
  • pre-school
Director, officer and owner licensing

Must individual directors, officers or owners of licensees also be licensed or reviewed for suitability?


IR or casino business operators must be companies incorporated under the Companies Act (typically, a kabushiki kaisha (KK) or a godo kaisha (GK)). There are no residency or nationality requirements to qualify as an owner of an IR or casino business operator, but any person who wishes to own 5 per cent or more of the voting rights, shares or interests of or in an IR or casino business operator needs to obtain the permission of the Commission.

Strict background checks on the casino business operator’s officers, directors, employees, subsidiaries, affiliated companies and other relevant persons and entities (including external persons who have a controlling power over any casino operation) will be carried out during the above licensing process stated in question 10.


There are certain disqualifying preconditions, for example:

  • a criminal record;
  • a drug addiction; and
  • a relationship with bōryokudan (Japanese organised crime).

If an applicant, its director or manager falls within such a precondition, the applicant will not be able to obtain the licence. The building of a pachinko parlour must also satisfy certain requirements relating to floor space (that is, there is a minimum and maximum floor space requirement depending on the area where the pachinko parlour is located), noise and vibration in the building and visibility within the building (that is, the pachinko parlour cannot be constructed as a structure which would block visibility from the outside) and so on.

Finally, the pachinko or pachi-slot machines in the pachinko parlour must be inspected by police prior to its operation. This inspection of machines is required whenever the parlour installs new machines even after the commencement of its operation.

Although the licence application procedures for a pachinko parlour vary from prefecture to prefecture, on an average, it takes about two months from the date of application to the local public safety commission for the licence to be granted.

However, it is currently very difficult to freshly obtain a licence for pachinko or pachi-slot under the Amusement Business Act and enter into an already saturated market.


May a gambling location be part of a resort, restaurant or other multi-purpose location? What limitations apply?

A casino business location must be part of an integrated resort, a complex combination of facilities, such as convention centres, recreational facilities, tourist facilities, accommodation facilities, as well as casinos. Also, the maximum floor area allocated for casino activity should be 3 per cent of the total floor area of the IR.

Passive/institutional ownership

Are there provisions for passive or institutional ownership that allow for exemption or modification of licensing requirements?

There are no such provisions under the IR Implementation Act.

Responsible gambling

What responsible gambling obligations apply to licensees?

The Basic Act on Countermeasures for Gambling Addiction addresses gambling addiction of casino licensee and that the casino licensee shall be responsible in prevention of gambling addiction. The maximum number of entries into casino facilities by customers other than non-resident foreigners is three times per week and 10 times per 28 days, in order to prevent any increase in the number of problematic gamblers. One entry will be counted if a customer enters the casino after the lapse of 24 hours since the previous entry. Also some people are prohibited from entering the casino and the casino business operators must restrict those people from entering the casino.

Also, to prevent gambling addiction and other related problems, only non-resident foreigners are permitted to purchase chips using credit cards.

Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are not permitted to be installed within casino facilities, and only ATMs without money-lending functions can be installed in areas surrounding casino facilities. Furthermore, to comply with regulations similar to those under the Money Lending Act and the Payment Service Act, all money transfers and receipts carried out by casino business operators upon customers’ requests are only carried out via financial institutions, and each customer’s deposit is only transferred to that customer’s own account.

The Japanese government and the relevant municipal body impose an entrance fee for customers other than non-resident foreigners for entering the casino facilities. They charge a total of ¥6000, which includes ¥3,000 towards the national entrance fee and ¥3,000 towards the municipal entrance fee. The casino business operator shall collect the entrance fees from customers upon their entry into casino facilities on behalf of the government and the municipal body, and shall pay such amount to the government on a monthly basis, by a specific day of each month.

In addition, considering that money lending might accelerate gambling addiction, borrowing of money is only available to customers who have the financial capability to make a cash deposit with the casino business operator exceeding a certain amount that includes non-resident foreign customers. Also, to prevent excessive lending, casino business operators shall check customers’ capabilities of repaying their loans, and shall set a separate cap on the loan amount for each customer.


What type of tax and what tax rate applies to each form of lawful land-based gambling activity?


If an entity is engaged in gambling activities through establishments located in Japan (or otherwise deemed to maintain a permanent establishment in Japan for tax purposes), all income attributed to those establishments will be taxed at normal rates regardless of whether the activities are deemed illegal or otherwise prohibited. There is no specific taxation statute relating to income gained through gambling activities.

In most cases, income from gambling will be subject to taxation under the Income Tax Act (Act No. 33 of 1965). However, prize money won from the lottery is exempt from all taxation under the Lottery Ticket Act.


The casino business operator bears:

  • a floating national tax, the amount of which is:
    • 15 per cent of the gross gaming revenue (which is composed of:
      • (x) the aggregate chip amount received from customers, less the amount refunded to customers; and
      • (y) the profit gained from bet-ting among customers) per month; or
    • a fixed tax which covers the administrative expenses of the Committee; and
  • a floating municipal tax, the amount of which is 15 per cent of the gross gaming revenue per month. The casino business operator shall pay these taxes to the Japanese government on a monthly basis, by a specific day of each month.