Japanese media have reported that legislators are currently debating the possibility of legalizing sports betting. The sports betting legislation in Japan is different to most countries that have an outright ban on sports betting or have a full system of legalized sports betting.
Japan allows punters to bet on four sports which include motorcycle races, motorboat races, cycling and horse racing. Punters are also allowed to bet on J-League games through a pools style lottery system that is controlled by the state.
Reports have emerged that key legislators are holding high levels talk of allowing sports betting on all of the top sports in Japan which include the J-League which is the premier football league and the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
The ban on popular sports is expected to be lifted before the end of 2024 and market analysts expect that this will create a $65 billion per year market. To put things into perspective, the betting market on these four sports generate close to $55 billion per year, so it is definitely a conservative estimate that when sports betting is permitted on two of Japan’s favorite sports in football and baseball, the market should not struggle to hit $65 billion.
The horse racing market in Japan has grown rapidly in recent years and one of the main contributors to that growth is the availability of mobile betting. When legislators discuss sports betting on all sports, mobile sports betting will very much be at the forefront of their discussions.
COVID-19 Pushes Sports Betting Legalization
Japan’s sporting market has suffered significant financial losses in the last 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is one of the reasons why legislators are looking at lifting the sports betting ban on all of the popular sports in Japan as they are very keen on creating a new revenue stream and tapping into the lucrative sports betting market.
Japan legalized casino gambling in July 2018 but things have progressed very slowly since then as legislators have gone back and forth over gaming regulations. Japan expects to finalize gambling regulation by the end of 2021 and issue its three gaming licenses next year, if all goes as per plan.
When it comes to sports betting legalization, market analysts don’t expect a huge delay like the casino gambling legislation because Japan already has a sports betting market up and running.