Though Japan will not get casino gambling until an integrated resort opens in Osaka in 2029, visitors to the country may be surprised to discover that although private gambling is illegal, betting in various forms is rampant.

Gambling via designated, government-controlled sports and lotteries is a long-established practice, while a legal loophole means pachinko parlors are seen as so-called indirect casinos.

Japan’s gambling laws say that bets on activities outside government control can be placed to win something that provides “momentary amusement.” This term is understood to mean something with a low monetary value that won’t inflame a player’s desire to gamble. The Supreme Court has ruled that cash, regardless of the amount, cannot fall under the legal definition of momentary entertainment.