The legal aspects of online casinos have been discussed in many places and on the news, so I’m sure some of you have a lot of knowledge. The following is a brief explanation of the current status of online casinos, including information and incidents to date.
Online casinos are “legal”
Online casinos are mainly licensed by government agencies in countries such as the United Kingdom, Malta, and the Philippines to provide their services. As long as they are licensed, they are not illegal and are recognized as legal by the government. In many of these countries, land casinos are also legal, and online casinos, the Internet version of land casinos, are legal as well. Not only casinos, but online gambling in general (bookmakers, online poker, etc.) is legal as well. In addition, some well-known businesses are listed on the stock exchange and are socially recognized, so there is no room for doubt.
For use from within Japan
When it comes to using legal services overseas from within Japan, the implications are different. If a Japanese person goes to Las Vegas and plays at a casino, there is no problem at all because it is a legal game in a legal country, but if it is in Japan, it is considered as “gambling at a black market casino (illegal casino)” and you will be charged with gambling. This is quite easy to understand since it has become a hot topic with celebrities and athletes in the past few years. However, there is no certain logic when using services in legal countries via the Internet from within Japan. That’s why online casinos are getting more and more popular in Japan, as well as casino comparison and review sites.
In the case of store-based products, it is clearly illegal
Most of the illegal casinos have blackjack and roulette tables in their premises, where players can bet money on the games, exactly the same as in land casinos. However, there are cases where online casinos are being used for this purpose. This type of casino is called “in-casino,” and it is a service that allows players to bet money and play at online casinos by setting up computers in stores, just like Internet cafes. There have been many cases of arrests for this, not because it is an online casino, but because the store operator operates the gambling room as the gambling master and the players are the participants, it is clearly illegal and a violation of gambling laws.
A court case has already ruled that the act of setting up a physical store and allowing people to access an online casino in the form of an Internet cafe to gamble is illegal because it violates the Japanese Criminal Code.
Interpretation and discomfort with the gambling law
Now, when an individual uses an online casino from within Japan, if the Gambling Act is applied, it deviates a little from the purpose of “punishing the act of conducting gambling and providing a place to conduct gambling. Those who are gambling are right, but those who provide the place for gambling are legal services from overseas. This is where I feel very uncomfortable.
Overseas Online Casino Operators Also Appeal to Japan
In August 2017, before the ban on casinos in Japan was lifted, the most talked-about issue was “measures against gambling addiction. He spoke passionately about the advantages of online casinos in combating addiction.
Online casinos have taken measures to combat addiction, such as stopping casino users when they log on to the Internet and behave in ways that are not rational in terms of the amount and frequency of their spending, depending on the situation. Online casinos require registration of IDs and are connected to our system and to government and third party credit check systems to gather information and ensure that people play within the appropriate amounts.
Bottom line, there is no law, so it’s not illegal.
It is natural for a country with a rule of law that crimes are made based on laws. That is why differences are created, such as legal in this country but illegal in a different country. Based on the various circumstances, we can conclude that using legal online casinos overseas from within Japan is not illegal because there are no laws specified to control it under the current law. But that does not mean that it is legal. It just means that if the law does not specify it correctly, there is nothing more and nothing less. In the end, it is up to the individual to make his or her own decision, but it is your responsibility to take this situation into consideration.
If online casinos are illegal, why aren’t virtual currencies?
While casinos are often highlighted for their gambling, things become easier to understand when we compare them to a new field that is not specified in the law in the same way. One such example is the current craze for virtual currency. I’m sure you are all familiar with bitcoin trading, as it is in the news every day. This bitcoin is also a new currency that was created recently. However, since it is a new field, it is not specified in the law and is treated in the same way as currency in games. So, let’s think about the much talked about case of VALU.
VALU is a service where you can issue your own VALUes (like stocks) and trade them with Bitcoin. It was in the news because a popular YouTube star and some of his acquaintances made a lot of money by selling their own VALUes at high prices. It only ended up in flames because the transaction was made with Bitcoin, but if it is clearly stated in the law, it is a fine illegal act that violates various laws related to finance. However, whether an act is morally good or bad is for the individual to judge, but whether it is illegal or not is determined according to the law, so it is not illegal. In the big picture, the same thing can be said about online casinos and VALU.
Recently, more and more online casinos are accepting bitcoin as payment, and if we take the same approach as other bitcoin services, we can think that if we play with bitcoin, we are just playing a game. But then, if you open a land casino in Japan and let people play with bitcoins, you could argue that it is not a gambling place but a game center. The whole thing is so messed up that it’s hard to understand…. In any case, what I’m trying to say is that laws are necessary to crack down on it, and without laws, it’s not illegal. (The law for virtual currencies is gradually being developed.
A recent lawyer pointed out the ambiguity of the gambling charge.
In June 2020, Takehiro Tsuda, the gambling expert mentioned in the previous section, appeared on the news reality show “ABEMA Prime,” a program of the Internet television station ABEMA, and pointed out the “idea that there is no illegality worthy of punishment ” and pointed out the ambiguity of the crime of gambling.
There are people who have been caught making money at online casinos, but most of them pay the fine without a fight. Most people would rather pay a fine of 200,000 or so and get it over with like a traffic ticket than have to deal with the police for a long time. But there was one person who was kind of brave. At first, I thought it was a sensitive case, but as it turned out, the case was dropped. I think it is a serious case in the sense that there is no other example. The major point was that the online casino had obtained a legal license overseas. The crime of gambling is basically a law to punish the owner or operator of the game, and if they have a legal license overseas, they cannot be punished. However, punishing only the customers is a situation where the word “endangerment” is most applicable, which is not envisioned by the Penal Code. I also wrote such an opinion, and I believe that is the reason why the case was not prosecuted. Another important thing to remember is that Japan’s criminal law was created during the Meiji era, so a tool that allows you to access casinos overseas while you are in Japan is like a “door anywhere” to people in the Meiji era. I argued that it was not supposed to be like that, and from the perspective of the legal principle of punishment, it was wrong to punish it.
The following is an explanation of the difficulties and realities of detection by law enforcement officials.
It’s hard to get a clue, and it’s unclear how much of a case it’s worth. If it’s a lot of money, there’ll be arrests, but we won’t get any information.
Store type with visible customers is the priority.
In the first place, the crime of gambling itself is a matter of where it takes place, so foreign countries are completely out of the loop. So, at least in Macau, it is OK for Japanese people to run casinos and invest in them. However, if you ask the police, they will tell you that it may be illegal. It is a crime against public morals, so if it turns out that Japanese anti-social forces are involved, the police will investigate for the sake of the Japanese people. As for online casinos, if they support Chinese, English, and European languages, for example, they are likely to have a global presence, and basically, Japanese antisocial forces are not involved. Also, since online casinos leave behind account records and other information, they are not undetectable if the police are so inclined to investigate. This is a little different from real gambling, where there is no evidence unless you are caught red-handed. As is the case with Mr. Kurokawa’s mah-jongg, there are no clear standards for the crime of gambling, and it is a mass of ambiguity.
Casino popularity to soar from January 2020
According to a survey conducted by the Asahi Shimbun Digital, the number of monthly visits to Verajon Casino increased more than 100-fold from approximately 640,000 in December 2018 to approximately 77.51 million in January 2020, indicating that the popularity of online casinos is growing rapidly. The popularity of online casinos is growing rapidly. However, as the lawyer argues, the hurdles to detecting online casinos are high, such as “lack of cooperation from the casino operators” and “difficulty in gathering evidence. In addition, there have been cases in the past where “confessions were obtained after arrest, but the charges were dropped”, making it difficult to match the current “crime of gambling”.
The Criminal Code of Japan prohibits gambling within Japan, and it can be illegal to gamble on foreign Internet gambling from within Japan. However, if the site is legal in the country where it is based, it is difficult for the investigating authorities to collect evidence because they cannot obtain the cooperation of the server administrators. Although the hurdle to uncovering the problem is high, there have been cases in the past where participants have been uncovered, and a National Police Agency official said, “We will uncover as many as possible.
When contacted by the Asahi Shimbun, Bellagio Casino responded, “We are operating under license, so there is no problem with cash wagering.
A question about online casinos was asked at the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives
Within the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives on March 1, 2021, a question regarding online casinos was raised by Mr. Hiroyuki Moriyama, a member of the Rikken Democratic Party, and answered by Mr. Hachiro Konoki, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party.
The question was, “For online casino users, who are said to have increased in the Corona vortex, online casinos are illegal in Japan as they are subject to the crime of gambling. What is the status of regulation? This is the question. The answer was, “Online casinos are not included in the IR Development Law and are not subject to regulation. The police and the chairman of the National Public Safety Commission will continue to strictly enforce the law. The police and the National Public Safety Commissioner will continue to strictly enforce the law.” In response to this answer, he said, “It is legal to access legal online casinos in other countries, but we cannot know whether the operation is located overseas or in Japan until we try. There is not enough case law to crack down on it, so isn’t there a need for legislation to crack down on it? He added.
There is no doubt that casinos based in Japan will be cracked down on as black market casinos as well as store-based casinos, but the perception of legal services overseas is still the same. There is no need to worry about “services that are operated by listed companies or have a proven track record overseas” such as the casinos listed on this site, but if the origin of the service is unclear, or if the casino uses Japanese models or sexy actresses as its image characters, there is a possibility that it is operated by a Japanese company like the Dream Casino mentioned above. I think you should be careful.
Avoid any action that could arouse suspicion
This has nothing to do with Japanese players who are playing from legal countries overseas, but there have been cases where people playing from within Japan were not prosecuted, and while it is not illegal because there is no law, it is not legal either. There is no law against it, but it is not legal either. If you blatantly disclose your online casino activities, there is a good chance that you will be charged. If you publish a video of yourself speeding, or upload a video of yourself on your knees on a social networking site, you will be slammed if you publish something that is clearly not legal.
These are the times we live in now. Even if you don’t think it’s a problem, you should avoid actions that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Use of online casinos that may be operating in Japan
- Do not use casinos that are clearly for Japanese participants only
- Do not share information that can identify you in chat rooms, etc.
- Do not publish your play history on blogs or social networking sites (except when you live abroad)
Japan has a huge gambling market in the form of Pachinko, where more money is spent than in casinos. And in a few years, Japan will have its own IR-type casino. In the world, many of the companies that operate land casinos in Sweden, Monaco, and Las Vegas are developing online casinos as their own online services. It is a well-known fact that Japanese companies boast the world’s top quality in manufacturing. There are no Japanese-made online casinos or games now, but if possible, services originating from Japan will have the ability to become the best in the world.
For the sake of a new means of earning foreign currency, and for the sake of improving the current state of gambling law, I would like to see online casinos legalized as part of the legislation for the birth of casinos in Japan. I would like to see Japan acknowledge that it is a gambling powerhouse and move toward controlling gambling within the rules, rather than leaving laws that don’t match the times as they are and taking them up as incidents.
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