Japan Considers Legalizing Football and Baseball Betting

The Japanese government considers a move to legalize football and baseball betting in a move that could create an industry worth $65bn per annum. The country has traditionally taken a hostile stance toward progressive gambling legislation, but in recent years they have shown signs of bucking the trend. In light of the economic stress put on the public revenue streams from the COVID pandemic, Japan’s politicians have become enthralled by the idea of a regulated betting industry similar to that of the UK.

Tokyo skyline daytime.

The Japanese government is considering legalizing football and baseball betting in a move that could create an industry worth $65bn per annum. ©cegoh/Pixabay

The discussions which up until now have been taking place in secret could see Japan’s national baseball league, The Nippon Professional League, become a sport where punters can legally place bets as soon as 2024. Baseball is one of the most popular sports throughout Japan and this move would be seen as a major shift in policy from a nation that has typically resisted the lure of the gambling business.

Traditionally Japan hasn’t been a haven for gamblers. Despite having a hugely lucrative professional sporting culture covering all major sports and some unique national treasures, the gambling industry’s attempts at integration have been hindered and primarily blocked. Breakthroughs in this regard were made through plans to introduce Integrated Resorts in Japan, and foreign companies still have an active interest in bringing these plans to fruition.

There has been a long-withheld position in Japan against the idea of opening up gambling to the masses. But following the economic pressure placed on the government since COVID, the government has had to reconsider plans to bring about new streams of revenue. According to research carried out by a local university, the local sports industry has suffered huge financial losses amounting to nearly $2.5 billion since the beginning of the pandemic.

Japan’s desire to expand its repertoire of sports betting options has been brewing for some time, and they are desperate to expand their current offering of just four sports. The industry in its current posture is already worth an estimated $55 billion, Japanese citizens are already betting huge sums of money using foreign credit cards each year on sports markets, at an estimated revenue of $40 billion. It would truly be a cataclysmic shift in direction if they are able to pull off this major feat.

Global Betting Industry Courting Japanese Government

It’s safe to say that the past year has been more productive in the advancement of Japanese gambling laws than all the progress made in the decade prior. The global betting business has been desperately trying to persuade the Japanese government to adopt a more commercial approach to gambling and showed them just how much revenue is being sent overseas, all whilst this cash could easily be kept within the confines of the country.

In the spirit of completely legalizing football and baseball betting and bringing about the creation of the global sportsbook industry, the sports marketing agency Dentsu has discovered a new and exciting way to present the proposition to lawmakers. They were tasked with investigating the environment around the possible new betting industry in Japan, and try to gauge just how popular its introduction would be to the wider market.

It would be a major coup if they are able to pull it off, not only would it divert a course that the Japanese government has stubbornly resisted changing for over many decades, but it would enable a whole new leisure industry to develop across the country. It is no secret that many in Japan are eagerly awaiting confirmation that they can indeed bet on baseball and football for the first time, legally, within their own country.

With tech companies, mobile game manufacturers, investment bankers, and casino conglomerates all vying to get a piece of the action, it’s certainly not a surprise that this industry has turned out to be an incredibly competitive space. If sweeping regulatory changes are eventually brought into effect, it will create vast new revenue opportunities for the Japanese government and could bring about a whole new era of Japanese commerce.

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