A new government study has concluded that 4.8 percent of the Japanese adult population has a gambling problem. That amounts to about 5.36 million people, according to the report disclosed on Wednesday.
The findings indicated that 4.38 million men, or 8.7 percent of the total, and 980,000 women, or 1.8 percent, were suspected to suffer from gambling problems, Japan’s Kyodo News press agency reported.
A team of the country’s Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry conducted the research.
The results were announced at a time when Japan is discussing legalising casino gambling. A bill on the topic is pending in the Diet, the country’s parliament.
There are already some legal gambling options in Japan such as horse and boat racing betting.
But the country is mostly known for its large pachinko industry, which analysts say it is a thinly veiled form of gambling, although officially labelled as “amusement”. However, players win prizes that are reportedly exchanged off premises for cash.
There are about 12,000 pachinko parlours in Japan, according to Reuters. The news agency says around US$185 billion are wagered annually in pachinko machines.
Over 4,100 Japanese adults nationwide were surveyed in July 2013 for the research on problem gambling, which also covered alcohol and Internet dependence.
Depending on the country and the survey year, the standardised rate of problem gambling ranges from 0.5 percent to 7.6 percent, with the average rate across all countries being 2.3 percent, says “The Population Prevalence of Problem Gambling”, a 2012 report. The document, prepared for Canada’s Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, compiled information from 202 studies on the matter conducted between 1975 and 2012 and covering 26 countries.
“In general, the lowest standardised prevalence rates of problem gambling tend to occur in Europe, with intermediate rates in North America and Australia and the highest rates in Asia,” the report said.
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"I want the group to hold the majority of [Japan integrated resort] projects and develop businesses in a broad range of fields with casino operations as the central focus"
Chairman of Japanese entertainment conglomerate Sega Sammy Holdings