Short Guide on Betting in Japan

Short Guide on Betting in Japan

Most Japanese will be very well acquainted with these rules, but foreigners coming into the country will be surprised that most gambling is banned in a country with such a large number of gamblers. Betting in Japan is only allowed in certain cases, and those can get quite popular.

There are eight forms of betting that doesn’t fall under the criminal code directly:

  1. Horse racing

  2. Bicycle racing

  3. Boat racing

  4. Car racing

  5. Football betting (soccer)

  6. Mahjong bets

  7. Pachinko

  8. Online gambling

For foreigners, it is easy to be drawn to a shady unlisted venue that pretends to be a casino. Getting caught in such a place will garner some very hefty fines, and you might lose your job in the country and be deported if on a working visa.

Additionally, due to the Japanese’s very dismissive relationship with foreigners, you might be chosen as the fall guy for the entire operation, especially if your Japanese is not up to speed.

Thankfully, accessing online betting and gaming sites is perfectly possible and legal in Japan, as you are not technically gambling in the country. Websites like are available even without a VPN and work seamlessly with Japanese banks.

Rules for Thee

Japan presents itself as a very orderly country. And, in many ways, they are. Rules are strict and interpersonal relationships have a lot of little queues that you would need to follow.

But, same as every other country, Japan is full of people, and humans like having fun. That is why there are a lot of places where you can find things that are not strictly speaking legal, but that are still enjoyed by a lot of natives.

Regardless, as a foreigner, you will be at a much higher risk of being exposed or reported for any wrongdoing. That is why you should avoid any type of illicit activities, no matter how tempting they might sound.

Betting or Races

Betting on races, especially horse races, is one of the biggest gambling markets in Japan. Only recently as Western online gaming operators are offering translation is digital betting and gambling surpassing in popularity.

Also, races and betting stations on them are one of the few places in Japan where people will be happy to see a foreigner, probably believing that you have money to burn. You will have no issues making a bet, even if you are trying to do so in English.

But, take care that this type of betting can cost quite a bit. Most circuits will allow bets as low as 100 Yen, which is about a US dollar, but some off-track betting facilities will ask up to 10.000 Yen per bet.


Pachinko is a type of machine that now looks very similar to what we might expect in a Western casino. You pull a pinball and try to launch a ball in a specific socket that wins a prize.

While there is a theoretical skill component in the game, it is mostly similar to a slot machine. And, with a high degree of decoration it resembles some popular online slot games. Watching the ball bounce around before falling is very exciting and very addictive.

And, similar to slots, because the buy-in is very low: often as low as 1 Yen per game. You are expected to pull a lot of times before finding the right spot that will win you a prize.

Although, even if it seems similar, RTP on pachinko is much lower than on any digital slot machine and closer to the 75% that was on the first spinners.

Online Betting

There are currently no official Japanese online betting operators. Still, this type of gambling is allowed as the provider is not inside the country. This makes things like sports betting and live casino games very popular because it is the only option for some sports.

Also, online betting on soccer and races give a lot more options than regular bets, enticing an increasing number of players to try their luck.

Nathan Moscrop

Nathan Moscrop Conditional jockey Nathan Moscrop made headlines in July, 2020, when handed a ten-day suspension for ‘winning’ the ‘9 Lives Challenge Novices’ Handicap Chase’ at Perth on Im Too Generous, a ten-year-old gelding trained by Rebecca Menzies. In a highly eventful race, Im Too Generous was left alone when his sole remaining rival, Court Dreaming, unseated rider at the third-last fence. At that point, Moscrop looked around and, seeing only loose horses in pursuit, steadied his mount to safely negotiate the final two obstacles. He did so, but having jumped the final fence Im Too Generous appeared to go lame in his left foreleg, a fact that was confirmed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Veterinary Officer after the race.

Indeed, video footage of the incident clearly shows Moscrop glancing down, albeit briefly, after jumping the final fence, before looking around again and continuing to the finish line. Having interviewed Moscrop, the Veterinary Officer and the Veterinary Surgeon and reviewed the footage, the stewards ruled that, despite having the race at his mercy, Moscrop should, in fact, have pulled up and dismounted Im Too Generous on the run-in.

Part-owner John Dance argued that a ten-day suspension was ‘harsh’, particularly in light of the fact that Moscrop had been instrumental in the rehabilitation of Im Too Generous, on and off the racecourse, after an absence of 1,423 days. However, while Moscrop is still entitled to claim a 3lb weight allowance when riding against professionals, the conditional jockey has ridden 44 winners under National Hunt Rules, in a riding career stretching back to 2006/07. He is hardly ‘wet behind the ears’ and must surely have realised that by continuing on Im Too Generous, who was effectively running on three legs at the finish, he would incur the wrath of the stewards.

Winning Starts with Beginning: Understanding the Racing Post

Winning Starts with Beginning: Understanding the Racing Post Since the demise of the Sporting Life in 1998, the Racing Post newspaper and its website,, have been definitive sources of horse racing information for the British betting public. However, if you’re new to horse racing or unfamiliar with the Racing Post, we thought you might appreciate a brief taster of what to expect when you open its virtual pages.


The Racing Post launched an enhanced online offering, known as the Racing Post Members’ Club, available to anyone willing to pay a monthly subscription, in 2009. However, the good news for horse racing fans is that all the essential features – cards, form, statistics, etc – are still available completely free of charge.


Obviously, it’s difficult to review every single feature available in an article of this length, so we’ll concentrate on how to read the cards and how to drill down to the information you need, whether its form, jockey, owner or trainer statistics, or anything else.


To find the racecard you want, click on “Cards” on the menu at the top of the Racing Post homepage. By default, the cards for the current day’s racing are displayed, meeting by meeting, but if you want to view racecards for the following day, or further into the future, click on “Tomorrow” or one of the other options at the top of the page.


For the sake of this example, let’s say we want to view the racecard for Thirsk on Tuesday, September 16 on the evening of Monday, September 16. We click “Cards”, “Tomorrow” and the name of the race, “Follow Us @Thirskraces Handicap” to display the following racecard.


Most of the information in the race header is self-explanatory and, in this case, we can see at a glance that this is a Class 4 handicap, exclusively for three-year-olds rated between 0 and 85 by British Horseracing Authority (BHA), and due to be run over a mile on good to soft going.


It’s only really when we examine individual horses that some of the letters and numbers on the racecard need further explanation, so let’s have a look at them.


Racecard Number: A sequential number that identifies the position of the horse on the racecard. Typically only used when placing a bet with a bookmaker on the racecourse, or a Tote bet.


Draw: A number that identifies the position of a horse in the starting stalls. Nowadays, on left-handed and right-handed racecourses, the numbering of the stalls always starts on the inside.


Finishing Position: A series of alphanumeric characters indicating the horse’s finishing position in its recent races. The numbers 0 to 9 indicate finishing positions, while you may also see the letters F for “fell”, O for “ran out”, P for “pulled up”, R for “refused”, RR for “refused to race”, S for “slipped up” and U for “unseated rider”. Occasionally, you may also see the letter V for “void”, which means that the result of race in question for declared void for some reason.


Horse: Obviously the horse’s name, but also a figure indicating the number of days since it last ran and an abbreviation for any headgear that the horse is set to wear. Abbreviations you may come across include:


b for “blinkers”

c for “cheekpieces”

e for “earplugs”

h for “hood”,

t for “tongue tie” and

v for “visor”


In all cases, a superscript “1” alongside the abbreviation means that the horse is wearing the headgear for the first time. For example, b1 indicated blinkers first time.


Age: The age of the horse, in years. Regardless of their foaling date, all racehorses have their official birthday on January 1.


Weight: The weight that the horse is set to carry, regardless of any allowance claimed by an apprentice or conditional jockey, or any overweight.


Trainer: The name of the trainer responsible for the horse.


RTF%: An abbreviation for “Ran To Form”; the percentage of the horses in the trainer’s care that ran as well as expected, according to their BHA rating, in the last 14 days.


Jockey: The name of the jockey due to ride the horse in the race in question. Apprentice or conditional jockeys, who claim an allowance, are indicated by a superscript number, usually a 3, 5 or 7, but sometimes a 10, which represents the number of Imperial pounds they claim.


OR: An abbreviation for “Official Rating”; the rating allocated by the BHA that represents, in Imperial pounds, the ability of once horse relative to another. As you can see from the example above, a horse with an OR of 85 is required to concede 2lb to a horse with an OR of 83, and so on, in a handicap.


TS: An abbreviation for “Top Speed”; A rating based on the races times recorded by the horse, as calculated by the Racing Post. The figure displayed is the best rating recorded by the horse, adjusted for the weight it is set to carry in the race in question.


RPR: An abbreviation for “Racing Post Rating”; A rating based on the previous race record or, in other words, a private handicap rating calculated by the Racing Post, rather than the BHA. The figure displayed is the best rating recorded by the horse, adjusted for the weight it is set to carry in the race in question.


Of course, one of the beauties of the Racing Post website is the ability to drill down to the race-by-race record of each horse on the racecard. This, in turn, reveals a whole raft of further information and an explanation of that information will form a later article in this series, ‘How to Understand the Racing Post Part II’.


We hope you enjoyed ‘Winning Starts with Beginning: Understanding the Racing Post Part I’and we will be back soon with another advanced betting guide. In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on ‘Winning Starts with Beginning: Understanding the Racing Post Part I’in the comments section below. If you missed our previous post in this series, ‘Ten Things You Might Not Know About The Racing Post’, you can read it here.

How to Bet on Over / Under 2.5 Goals

How to Bet on Over / Under 2.5 Goals Many football punters like to swerve the Full-Time Result betting market and instead plump for alternative betting selections. After all, the 1×2 football market involves customers having to choose either the home team, draw or the away team. Three possible outcomes can sometimes make it hard to find a winner, especially if you don’t have a strong opinion on the game.

However, we have been specialising in Over / Under 2.5 Goals tips for this exact reason. This is a preferred market when it comes to football betting accumulators due to the fact that we’re dealing with a two-way betting market where you either go “Over” or “Under” with each pick.

Don’t be confused by the 2.5 part of the bet. When you place a bet on Over / Under 2.5 Goals, you are either betting:

  • Over 2.5 Goals – three or more goals to be scored
  • Under 2.5 Goals – two or less goals to be scored

There are no possible alternative outcomes. It keeps football betting really simple and it’s great if you have an opinion about whether a football match is going to be high-scoring or low-scoring.

For football matches where a higher number of goals is anticipated, then you might find it makes more sense to bet on Over / Under 3.5 Goals instead. That would mean a bet on the “Overs” would require four or more goals to be scored, while the “Unders” means you get three goals or less as part of the bet.

Place an Over / Under 2.5 Goals Accumulator Bet

We’re big fans of placing football accumulators and Over / Under 2.5 Goals is definitely a good football betting market when it comes to an acca. You might want to pick out a handful of matches where you’re predicting Over 2.5 Goals and bet accordingly.

Alternatively, you might sniff out a few low-scoring games and go for an Under 2.5 Goals acca instead. Indeed, there’s nothing to stop you having a football accumulator with a combination of selections and our Over / Under 2.5 Goals tips can help to guide you into the best possible bet.

The good thing about Over / Under 2.5 Goals betting is that you can often win quickly should you bet Over 2.5 Goals seeing as three first-half goals could conceivably win your bet without having to wait for the second half to be played.

Similarly, you might back the Under 2.5 Goals and know that with the scoreline at 0-0 with twenty minutes left, your bet is very likely to result in a winner.