Japan’s pachinko parlours facing decline

By Violeta Prockyte

Japan’s pachinko industry is declining due to an outdated business model, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun news outlet.

Police in Chiba Prefecture counted a decline in the number of parlours, which have decreased by 16% in the last few years, going from 451 in 2016 to 379 by the end of 2020.

The All Japan Amusement Business Cooperative Association reported that on a national level, 111 closed their doors in March alone. Japan is currently entered into another state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and pachinko parlors were requested to close, though some of them have continued operating regardless with reduced capacity.

Additionally, new pachinko machines cost more and more elaborate models, which offer more gambling content, are subjected to stricter regulations.

Digitalisation in Japan is another factor, as people tend to stay at home during the pandemic, and pachinko cannot offer any form of online gaming to players.

Alternatively, bike racing was able to adapt to online betting demand, and overall ticket sales saw a 14% year-on-year increase to JPY750bn ($6.9bn), reports Asia Gaming Brief.

Yet despite digitalisation in the racing industry, the new health and safety measures require some of the velodromes in urban areas to suspend their activities entirely, as velodromes are often operated by city governments (unlike pachinko halls that are more privately owned).

The bike racing industry is looking for opportunities to expand its services outside of regular races, such as late night racing that was first implemented in 2011 and is now available in 23 venues across the country.

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