Are online casinos illegal or legal in Japan? Find out before you play!

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We all know that Japanese people love to gamble and there’re many types of betting and gambling in Japan. If you search about gambling in Japanese terms like 日本のギャンブル (Japanese gambling) or ギャンブル 日本 (gambling in Japan), you will find millions of articles about and news discuss them. Nevertheless, online casino is still illegal to operate in Japan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this article, we will explain more about online casinos and gambling in Japan and what you should do regarding its legislation.

Is it completely illegal to gambling in Japan (ギャンブル 日本)?

Under the current law, it is not illegal to play at an online casino outside of Japan while you are in Japan.

Online casinos are licensed according to the laws of the country they are located in and have servers in each country. However, there are also unlicensed and dangerous online casinos, so be sure to avoid those sites.

In principle, Japanese law only applies to crimes committed in Japan (according to Article 1 of the Penal Code). Therefore, online casinos whose servers are located overseas are not subject to Japanese law.

Incidentally, there are cases where domestic laws are applied to crimes committed overseas (according to Article 2-4-2 of the Penal Code), but so far there is no section on overseas online casinos.

Even if it becomes illegal to play at online casinos outside of Japan due to legal changes, there is a concept of retroactivity of the law.

What is the retroactivity of law?

It means that the law does not apply to actions that occurred before it was made.

In other words, it is currently not illegal to play at online casinos outside of Japan, so even if the law is changed in the future to make it illegal, you will not be retroactively charged with a crime.

Gambling in Japan and the law

The current gambling laws are very vague regarding online casinos.

Here are some of the answers given by the Japanese government. It is difficult to understand in the original text, so I will break it down a bit and list them.

From the question note on the crime of gambling in Japan and wealth lottery (October 22, 2013)

  • If a person doesn’t play at online casinos with servers outside of Japan via the Internet from within Japan or playing at casinos outside of Japan that are relayed over the Internet, apply to the crime of fraud, regardless of whether you play at an online casino store in Japan or via the Internet in your room in Japan?
  • Are people who provide services to “people in Japan” also subject to Japanese criminal law?
  • In other words, can a company that provides gambling services by grounding its servers outside of Japan be considered to be guilty of gambling?
  • Regarding the necessary complicity, which is a condition for the application of the crime of gambling, if the “gambler” is in Japan and the “gambling operator” is overseas, is it still treated as complicity?
  • Even in a situation where one of them is not punished as it is, if both of them are found to be complicit, will both of them be punished?

Responses from members to that question (November 1, 2013)

The government cannot give a blanket answer to all of these questions, as each one should be considered individually based on the evidence gathered by the police and other authorities to determine whether it is illegal or not.

In general, however, if gambling (or any part thereof) is conducted in Japan, the crime of gambling applies. In addition, if the gambling (or a part of it) is carried out in Japan, the crime of gambling may also apply.

In summary, “If I play at an online casino outside of Japan while I am in Japan, will it be treated as gambling? If one party cannot be punished because they are overseas, will the other party (i.e., the player) also be convicted of the crime of gambling?” In response to these questions, the Japanese government gave an unclear answer, saying that it could not give an answer because it would be considered on a case-by-case basis and that, in general, the crime of gambling would be applied.

In cases where there is a clear distinction between the user and the store (the owner) are treated as gambling establishments, but when an individual is playing at an online casino, it is not possible to crack down on that individual 100 percent. This is why online casinos are called a “gray zone”.

Why can you be charged with a crime at an online casino?

Every once in a while, an online casino user or its operator is arrested. Most of them are arrested for letting users play online casinos at Internet cafes and other stores where they can exchange the coins for in-game coins (commonly known as “incarceration”). It is not against the law to play at online casinos outside of your country, so why are you arrested?

The only thing that is not illegal is to play in a foreign online casino.

Therefore, if you play at an online casino where the operator is located in Japan, you will of course be subject to Japanese law (gambling charges). The “operation” mentioned here does not refer to the country where the server is located, but to the people involved in the gambling. Therefore, in this case, the store that allowed the gambling to take place is treated as the “operation. In other words, an Internet cafe is an operator.

Inkajis is against the law, no questions asked. Therefore, it is strictly forbidden to play at online casinos whose operators are located in Japan, even if they say they are legal!

Illegal online casinos

 Is it safe to play at an online casino?

Currently, there are no cases of individuals being arrested for playing at online casinos. So, as long as you do not go beyond your personal boundaries, you are safe to play. However, it is also true that it is difficult to assert that it is 100 percent legal.

However, I think it is unlikely that the law will suddenly change and all Japanese players will be arrested at once. I think the first step will be to crack down on online casinos themselves, rather than individual players, and prevent them from playing at online casinos.

There is no guarantee that you will always be able to play a full-fledged online casino in your room in Japan. Why don’t you try playing online casinos in your room while you can?

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