Sports Betting in Japan: A Growing Industry and Popular Pastime

Sports betting has been gaining popularity in Japan in recent years. With a rich sporting culture and a growing interest in various international sports, Japanese bettors are now actively participating in this exciting form of gambling. In this article, we will explore the world of sports betting in Japan, including its legality, popular sports to bet on, and the future prospects of this industry.

Legality of Sports Betting in Japan

While gambling laws in Japan have historically been strict, there have been recent changes that have opened up opportunities for sports betting. In 2018, the Japanese government passed a law legalizing casino gambling, which includes sports betting as one of its components. However, it is important to note that the implementation of this law is still ongoing, and the full extent of sports betting regulations is yet to be established.

Japanese sports enthusiasts have a wide range of options when it comes to sports betting. Here are some of the most popular sports that attract a significant amount of betting activity:

1. Baseball

Baseball is considered the national sport of Japan and enjoys a massive fan following. The Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league is highly competitive and provides ample opportunities for betting. Bettors can place wagers on various aspects of the game, such as the winning team, the total runs scored, or even individual player performance.

2. Soccer

Soccer, or football, has gained immense popularity in Japan over the years. The J-League, Japan’s professional football league, attracts a large number of spectators and bettors alike. Betting options for soccer include predicting the match outcome, goal scorers, or even the number of yellow cards issued.

3. Horse Racing

Horse racing has a long history in Japan and is a favorite pastime for many. The Japan Racing Association (JRA) organizes numerous races throughout the year, including prestigious events like the Japan Cup. Betting on horse racing involves predicting the winning horse, place or show bets, or even exotic bets like trifectas and superfectas.

4. Sumo Wrestling

Sumo wrestling holds a special place in Japanese culture and attracts a dedicated fan base. While not as widely bet upon as other sports, sumo wrestling does offer opportunities for betting on tournament winners, individual match outcomes, or even the number of wins by a specific wrestler.

The Future of Sports Betting in Japan

With the legalization of casino gambling, the future of sports betting in Japan looks promising. As regulations become more defined and operators enter the market, it is expected that the industry will experience significant growth. The influx of international sports events, such as the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, will further fuel the interest in sports betting among Japanese bettors.

However, it is essential for the government to establish responsible gambling measures and ensure the protection of consumers. Education on responsible betting practices and the prevention of gambling addiction should be at the forefront of industry development.


Sports betting in Japan is an exciting and evolving industry. With a wide range of sports to bet on and the ongoing legalization of casino gambling, Japanese bettors have more opportunities than ever to engage in this thrilling form of entertainment. As the industry continues to grow, it is crucial for all stakeholders to prioritize responsible gambling practices to ensure a safe and enjoyable betting experience for all.

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