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amid the new casino bill the government has announced that as from February all new pachinko games will have the maximum prize payout cut by a third.


As a result the maximum value of balls paid out to players over a four hour period would be less than the value of ¥50,000. It could mean exciting new machines are off the cards, which means operators won’t buy new machines and players may stop visiting.


It is thought Prime Minister Abe is trying to widen the gap between casinos and pachinkos and tighten up the industry. Te industry is closely overseen by an organisation made up of retired police officers who have often been accused of treating it as a job with ‘perks’. Some say the system of Kankin (changing their prizes for money) could also be prohibited once casinos are introduced which could well see the pachinko industry driven out of business.


PUBLIC GAMBLING: Meanwhile the main other types of gambling


permitted in Japan come under the Public Gambling banner and is limited to gambling on powerboat, bicycle, horse, speedway motorcycle and soccer.


Horse Racing or Keiba is classified in two categories – racing operated by the federal government via an organisation called the Japan Racing Association and racing conducted by local governments on a prefecture and municipal level.


Western style horse racing was introduced to Japan back in 1861 and the first race was held in Yokohama by the Yokohama Race Club formed by a group of foreign residents in the city. Later Tokyo and Hakodata followed suit and it grew from there.


Te Horse Racing Law was introduced in 1923 and updated in 1948 after which the JRA was set up in 1954 to ensure the integrity of horseracing and the development of breeding. Te association is operated under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and revenues go to the national treasury.


It is said because they are government run, the tracks are impersonal and lacking in charm whilst betting is complicated. Tere are 10 JRA tracks located in Tokyo, Fukushima, Nakayama, Niigata, Kyoto, Kokura, Hanshin, Sapporo, Chukyo and Hakodate.


Te tracks – Tokyo, Nakayama, Kyoto and Hanshin – are known as the main four and with Chukyo - hold the GI races. Te Tokyo track built in 1933 is known as the racecourse of racecourses in Japanese horseracing and after seven years of renovation it reopened in 2007.


Tere are also 38 off track JRA betting facilities called WINS for those who wish to bet on horse races. Horse racing is hugely popular and draws in big crowds and most races are held over the weekend. Te JRA contributes 10 per cent of its turnover to the national treasury plus 50 per cent of any surplus profits at the end of each


fiscal year. Tere are some 3,450 races per year on average and 6.3 million attendance figures. Turnover in 2016 was ¥2.6trillion.


Meanwhile the non JRA tracks, of which there are 17 are run by the local governments and many are lower quality race tracks and not for serious bettors whilst some races especially in Tokyo and Kansai areas are held mid week so they do not clash with the JRA races.


Racing by local governments started mainly as a form of public entertainment but flourished in the early 1940s. Revenues are designated to local governments and this type of racing has been on offer for the past 90 years.


In 1962 the Horse Racing Law underwent a review and the National Association of Racing (NAR) was established which oversees the local government racing sector. Tere are 14 local governments which conduct horse racing at 15 race courses.


Tere are a total of around 14,500 races conducted by the local governments each year and some 3.2 million visitors per year in total. Turnover for NAR races amounted to ¥477.2bn and most are flat races with thoroughbred horses. Tere is a unique draft horse race called Ban-ei races held in Hokkaido region only.


Te lottery called Takara-kuji has been liberalised over the last 10 years or so. In the past to play the big ‘jumbo’ lotteries players had to buy tickets in department stores but now they can be found in sanctioned lottery booths.


NEWSWIW I I T / IC I R CMAR/ T DATA P1 NERES/WNRERANTEVEA/ TIVEKEMARKET DA1T7A P117


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