Pachinko industry to be hit by gambling addiction policies

The high-profile public debate on gambling addiction, which until now has been mainly associated with the forthcoming establishment of IRs, is set to hit Japan’s lucrative pachinko industry.

The National Police Agency on Monday announced new policies meant to crack down on gambling addiction. Some of the main elements will be to slow down the provision of pachinko balls to about two-thirds of the current maximum and to limit players to receiving JPY50,000 (US$450) in pachinko ball value over a four hour period. Currently, players may receive as much as three times that amount.

These new regulations are to be applied to pachislot machines as well.

A high-ranking police official explained to the national media: “Because of the addiction issue, we want to promote a proper way of playing without excessive shooting of pachinko balls.”

The National Police Agency has unveiled its proposed revisions to the Regulations for Enforcement of the Act on the Control and Improvement of the Amusement and Entertainment Business for public comment. These new regulations are expected to be enforced from next February.

Managers of pachinko parlors are also to be obliged to offer training to their staff about gambling addiction, as well as to offer information about problem gambling to customers.

Police officials told the media that there were 10,986 pachinko parlors in Japan as of last year. They have been officially classified as entertainment facilities rather than gambling establishments, but awareness that they are the main source for Japan’s problem gambling has been rising along with the national debate about IR facilities.