The 4 Public Sports to Bet Legally in Japan

In Japan, it is illegal for betting websites to operate from the country. While online betting in Japan has been less and less regulated over the last few years, it’s still not technically legal for nationals to do it, especially if it’s discovered they did so through a Japan-based bookmaker.

However, Japan has betting markets for 4 public sports, in which offline gambling is not only legal but actually encouraged.

Horse racing

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Horse racing is extremely popular in Japan. There are 24 major races per year and over 21,000 in total. The big races are organized by the Japan Racing Association, an entity that oversees 10 tracks. When it comes to racing in major cities and prefectures, the responsible institution is the National Association of Racing.

There are many types of horse racing betting types available to Japanese locals, all of them pari-mutuel based.

Powerboat racing

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Powerboat racing averages more money wagered per race than any other type of public sport in Japan. Each race lasts only a couple of minutes since they are high-speed. This type of racing attracts a huge following while also being heavily regulated. The majority of the proceeds from powerboat racing betting go to charity.

Motorcycle speedway

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This is probably the Japanese sport that involves the highest number of illegal bets. Legally though, it is a form of very regulated pari-mutuel betting.

A few decades ago, there was a huge wave of corruption in this sport due to illegal bets. That’s why now participants stay in a dorm before and until finishing the race. By the time bookies know which result would be most profitable, racers have no outside contact.

Keirin cycling

Keirin was established in Japan specifically with the intention of creating a new form of gambling. Curiously enough, the keirin race is now an international and Olympic sport. Japan is still the country where the sport is more popular precisely because of the betting market. There are 47 velodromes, all with pari-mutuel betting systems. The market offers many wagering options.

A fifth option for legal offline betting in Japan is soccer. Tiptonium will cover that soon.