Most Popular eSports Bookies in Japan

In just one year, the esports market grew to a massive degree. And by the looks of it, it will continue to grow. In 2017, Japan's esports market was valued at $3 million. A year later, in 2018, the property was valued at $44 million. As it turns out, three Japanese legislative rules have had a significant impact on the country's esports expansion.

The expansion is also linked to the nature of the people in Japan. There, the people have always carried a reputation as fun-loving people. Because they like to engage in fun activities, it's undeniable that esports and esports betting is among these activities. That's why there are many sites for esports betting in Japan.

Most Popular eSports Bookies in Japan
History of esports betting in JapanEsports nowadays in JapanAre casinos legal in Japan?Betting acts in JapanJapanese players' favorite gamesPayment methods in JapanFAQ

Additionally, an esports school for high school students (known as eSports High School) was established. eSports High School is essentially promoting itself as a trade school for the rapidly expanding and vibrant game media industry. Competitive pro gamer is just one of the many options on its list of possible careers for graduates, including streamer, game developer, virtual YouTuber, gaming journalist, programmer, esports pundit, and 3-D CG designer.

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History of esports betting in Japan

History of esports betting in Japan

The history of esports betting in Japan relates to the country's history with gambling. Emperor Tenmu, according to a historical record from the eighth century, enjoyed playing a dice-based game similar to backgammon. This game was known as ban-sugoroku, which translates to "double six," and it was forbidden under the reign of Empress Jito.

Bakuto (professional gamblers) developed from what is now modern-day Kyoto during this age of excessive gambling. With the rise of these professional gamblers, there has been an increase in the amount of violence associated with gambling.

The Japanese government issued nine edicts against gaming in the 13th century. Samurais were not allowed to gamble during the Edo Period. On the other hand, higher-ranking samurais were allowed to drink, gamble, and associate with prostitutes.

As time marched on, other forms of gambling were introduced. Notably, card, slot, and dice games like mahjong and pachinko came into the picture. The people also started playing takarakuji (lottery) as a form of entertainment. Because of gambling's rise in popularity, illegal sectors also jumped in. And sadly, they took the opportunity to exploit the gambling industry by building crime organizations that focus on illegal gambling operations.

History of esports betting in Japan
Esports nowadays in Japan

Esports nowadays in Japan

Fortunately, this all changed. When the world entered the 2000s, long gone were the days when gambling and having fun were linked to negative connotations, such as violence, public disturbance, and riots. Nowadays, gambling in Japan is organized, and having fun is no longer associated with crime. And nowadays, esports betting has become part of the picture.

This significant change to gambling also has to do with the popularity of the internet in Japan. Decades ago, it was challenging for most people in the country to access the internet. But as of the 2000s, that challenge was no more. Nowadays, a person can go almost anywhere and access the internet. And the easier the access to the internet is, the more people will want to access esports betting sites.

The support of the Japanese government for esports betting can seem overwhelming. NTTe-Sports, the competitive gaming subsidiary of telecommunications corporation NTT, and Tokyo Verdy's e-sports spinoff (which plays games outside the sports genre as well) support eSports High School, with members of Verde active in student education.

If the concept of a gaming high school is perplexing, keep in mind that high school in Japan is not part of the obligatory education system, and high schools with a trade school-like component to their curriculum are not uncommon. "Professional gaming, as a vocation, is incredibly challenging, and therefore our goal is to provide students with abilities that can be applied not just in competitive gaming, but in a variety of ways," the eSports High School website states.

Future of esports in Japan

Looking ahead, the fate of esports and esports betting in Japan is about to get better. Of many things, this is linked to the fact that Japan is a country that embraces change. The Japanese people, who tend to be lifelong learners, are also worth crediting for this optimistic outlook on esports and the betting industry's future.

In 2022 and beyond, a clarification of the legal status of esports betting in the country would undoubtedly aid the industry's development. It remains to be seen whether the Japanese government, which has hitherto been hesitant to legalize many various types of betting, will move to explain the situation.

Given the popularity of esports like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, League of Legends, CS: GO, and Overwatch in particular, as well as the unique characteristics of the Japanese market in terms of the most popular esports titles, some clarity on esports betting would be quite beneficial.

Esports nowadays in Japan
Betting acts in Japan

Betting acts in Japan

Esports betting and gambling tax laws are a little complicated. Winnings from horse racing are taxable, but only if you win more than $500,000 per year. You also can't deduct the cost of losing bets from your winnings. You must pay tax on your earnings even if you lose $600,000 in bets in a year.

Note that while only restricted esports betting is permitted in Japan, the tax code does not handle wagers on other sports. Because the Japanese government does not regulate sportsbooks that operate in the country, it is doubtful that any taxes will be withheld. It's essential to speak with an accountant about your tax position.

Earlier, it was mentioned three Japanese legislative laws re-shaped the esports market. The following are those laws:

1. Fueiho

Under this law, "Game Centers" (i.e., amusement arcades) are subject to particular laws under the Fueiho (described as a business where the owners equip the arcade with slot machines, TV games machines, or other entertainment facilities in a partitioned space and allow guests to play the game).

Suppose a business is subject to the Fueiho. In that case, it must obtain permission to operate from the Prefectural Public Safety Commission and adhere to several restrictions, including limiting business hours, restricting access to minors, and prohibiting the payment of prize money to players if they hold competitions.

2. The Premiums Act

The Premiums Act prohibits businesses from charging exorbitant premiums in exchange for their services. In Japan, the main question with esports was whether the prize money paid by the game's publisher for the competition was considered Premiums for the publisher.

If an esports competition's prize money is subject to the Premiums Act, the amount of prize money cannot exceed the lower of I 20 times the transaction's value; or (ii) 100,000 Japanese Yen (about $900).

3. The Penal Code

Gambling is severely regulated in Japan, and anyone who gambles or runs a gambling facility faces criminal charges. Betting is defined as follows in the Japanese Penal Code:
"Betting a property on a competition whose outcome is determined by chance."

This applies not only to esports betting but also to esports competitions. When players in an esports competition pay registration costs to the competition's organizer, and the prize money includes the registration fees (which is almost always the case), paying registration fees might be construed as betting. Because you are "betting a property on a contest whose outcome depends on chance" by paying the fees, you are "betting a property on a contest whose outcome depends on chance."

Betting acts in Japan
Japanese players' favorite games

Japanese players' favorite games

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is one of the most popular esports in Japan. It's a combat game in which players compete in teams of troops. This game is one of their all-time favorites for many Japanese players because of its fast gameplay and depth. In 2021, the Call of Duty: Mobile World Championship was held in Japan, with a $50,000 prize pool. Call of Duty is, unsurprisingly, one of the top mobile esports games. Treyarch and a few other teams collaborate on Call of Duty, which releases a new game every year.

Among other most popular esports in Japan currently are:

  • League of Legends - A MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game that encourages ten players divided into two teams to defend their territory.
  • CS: GO - It’s short for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It's a multiplayer FPS (First-Person Shooter) game.
  • Overwatch - A vibrant FPS game involving a near-future earth setting.

All of these games are competitive. They foster a sense of community that people enjoy and wish to spread.

And in terms of competition, it appears doubtful that any Japanese team will threaten the dominance of teams from China, North America, South Korea, and Europe in League of Legends or Overwatch. However, given the state of the Chinese esports business, this may not be the case in the future, and we may see strong competitors emerge from the country in a variety of esports.

Japanese players' favorite games
Payment methods in Japan

Payment methods in Japan

Bettors can use both Neteller and Skrill to make a deposit. Both are online e-wallets that may be used to make purchases online. A person can transfer money from their bank account to their Skrill or Neteller account and then use those funds to make a deposit.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are other possible alternatives for some bookmakers. A bettor can transfer funds directly from their bitcoin wallet to their esportsbook if that bookmaker accepts bitcoin. Bitcoin incurs miner fees, yet it is one of the most secure solutions available outside e-wallets. E-wallet and bitcoin deposits are rapidly processed, and bettors can begin wagering right away.

Payment methods in Japan


Many people who are unfamiliar with how esports betting sites operate have a lot of questions. These are some of them:

Do all Japanese esports betting sites accept the Japanese Yen?

No. Betting sites continue to accept EUR, USD, and GBP as their principal currencies. Only a few bookies accept JPY as a currency because it is deemed "exotic."

Are there age-related restrictions?

Generally, in Japan, a person must be 18 years of age (or older) to place esports bets. However, they may play with a team and not place bets even if they are under 18.

Can I have other options as a Japanese online bettor?

It is hard to have an optimal betting (land-based or online) experience in Japan due to local rules. Only four sports are permitted, and betting options are severely restricted. You can get a lot of possibilities and benefits if you play at international betting sites.

What can I expect from online esports betting sites in Japan?

Online esports betting sites in Japan grant players the opportunity to access international betting sites.


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