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Problem gambling is not just an issue in North America, it is universal.  In this first post we will look at problem gambling in Japan, where the Japanese government has recently introduced legislation allowing Integrated Resorts with Casinos into the country for the first time.

Problem Gambling - a Universal Issue

Part 1 - Problem Gambling in Japan.

While casinos are new to Japan, gambling is not new for Japan or Japanese consumers.  There is a long culture of gambling with legal gambling allowed for horse racing, boat racing and even bicycle racing.  There are also many lotteries and online gambling is very popular.  Also, although it is not classified technically as gambling, Pachinko remains the most popular form of gaming/gambling in Japan.  

Many Japanese have also gambled overseas at Casinos, with both Las Vegas and Macau being favored destinations.  So, the concept of gambling and of casinos is not new to the people of Japan, however having domestic Integrated Resorts with casinos will be new, so there is great concern that there will be a significant increase in problem gambling in Japan.


Since the Japanese government introduced legislation legalizing Integrated Resorts in Japan in 2018, the concept of Responsible Gambling or Responsible Gaming has become much more widely used and better understood.   There have been multiple news articles domestically and internationally about the possible increase in problem gambling, and according to one survey more than 60% of the Japanese public is against the concept of the Integrated Resorts, due mainly to their concern over social issues.

There is also an organization in Japan, the Japan Sustainable Responsible Gaming Council (JSRG), that was founded after the law enabling Integrated Resorts in Japan was passed, that aims to contribute to the sustainable development of society by reducing and solving gambling addiction problems by expanding responsible gaming activities. 

However, even with this increase in understanding of the issue of responsible gambling, there is still little formal support for helping problem gamblers in Japan.  Instead of implementing national educational and social support programs, the Japanese government has prioritized restricting or limiting access to facilities through tactics that limit the number of times Japanese nationals can visit a casino in one month, charging an entrance fee and removing ATMs from gambling locations.  The basic plan that the government has put into place does also call for advertisements to bring awareness to the issues around gambling addiction, as well as consultation and treatment centres to be set up in all 47 prefectures and the top 20 cities.

However, this is only a plan which pushes the responsibility for implementation off to the Prefectures, and there are no penalties if it does not happen so there is no guarantee that all of the centres or advertisements will actually happen.  In Japan, it is very common for the government to announce a plan that addresses a specific concern at the time, only for that plan to conveniently go away, once the noise about the issue has subsided.  In February of this year, however, in a sign that the Japanese Government is taking the concerns about potential problems with problem gambling in Japan due to the Integrated Resorts seriously, the fees that the National Health Insurance will pay for was updated, and problem gambling treatments will now be paid for by National Health Insurance, as well as continuing to pay for treatment of alcohol related disorders. 

Many of these policies may seem strange from a North American perspective, however it does not change the fact that problem gambling is an issue in many countries.  No matter which country you live in if you need help, we're here for you.

At Algamus, we are an intimate program and or staff to patient ratio is almost one to one. Clients have the opportunity to share and heal, surrounded by other women in gambling recovery who can relate to their struggles.  Ready to start healing?  Reach out today.

Topics: Gambling Addiction, Treatment

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.