Convenience and instant thrill of online casinos appeal to young Japanese amid pandemic

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An online casino site is seen in this partially edited photo taken in May 2022. (Mainichi)

TOKYO – Following the arrest of a 24-year-old man who claims to have gambled 46.3 million yen (about $363,000) in coronavirus relief money that a city in western Japan has Mistakenly deposited into his account, the incident raises a simple question: Can a person use almost 50 million yen in an online casino in just over 10 days?

According to a lawyer representing Sho Taguchi, 24, a resident of Abu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, who is charged with computer fraud, the suspect repeatedly withdrew the overpaid money from his account almost daily from the April 8, when the city government of Abu made the mistake. . On April 18, his account balance was less than 70,000 yen (about $550).

While it’s unclear if Taguchi was a gambling addict, if he played the full amount at an online casino, that translates to a bet of around 4 million yen (about $31,000 ) per day.

According to an addiction support group, there have been an increasing number of young people in Japan who have become addicted to gambling in online casinos during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The biggest appeal of online casinos is that they can be played without limits 24 hours a day, which is at the same time scary,” a 30-year-old office worker who became an online casino addict told Mainichi Shimbun. . “Compared to pachinko and horse racing, players can be thrilled to see their win or loss in an instant (in online casinos),” he said.

The 30-year-old got into the game about 10 years ago after he started playing in pachinko parlors. When he ran out of money to bet, he took out consumer loans to feed his habit. Now he earns around 700,000 yen (about $5,500) a month, but his savings are next to zero as he pours his money into the game.






Tatsuya Kishi talks on his YouTube channel about the danger of gambling addictions and how he beat them.

It was about three years ago that he encountered online casinos. There are all sorts of gaming options offered at online casino sites, from slot games to table games, and players wager using credit cards or cryptocurrencies. In Japan, gambling in places other than public gambling establishments is considered illegal, but since these online casino sites are created by overseas-based companies for Japanese customers, they are effectively not controlled.

One reason the 30-year-old can’t get out of his online casino addiction is his momentum. He says he sometimes wins a little over 100,000 yen (about $790) on a single spin.

Yet he also experienced pain. “Online casino sites seem like a good deal for players at first glance, but there are actually various restrictions once you start playing them,” the office worker explains. Nonetheless, he says the convenience and thrills of online casinos outweigh their risks. “I can quickly lose money (in a game), but it’s hard to stop,” he said with a sigh.

So how do you break the addiction to online gambling? A group of young people who once suffered from gambling addictions are sharing their experiences via social media to prevent others from going through similar ordeals.

Tatsuya Kishi, 33, is one such person. He got into pachinko and horse racing after playing slot machine games in arcades when he was around 10 years old. He now shares his experiences under his own name on Twitter and YouTube, explaining how he got rid of his gambling addiction.

Kishi says his debt started to snowball after it became possible to buy betting tickets online. “In addition to the convenience of betting from home, you can take consumer loans with just a smartphone to get money to play, which makes you lose the sense of using money.” It reinforces online gambling addiction,” he said, pointing out the strong affinity between the internet and gambling.

After undergoing specialist treatment, Kishi managed to quit acting about three years ago.

“Japan still lacks programs to cure drug addicts. They cannot overcome their addiction unless they make others around them understand that addictions are diseases that need treatment,” he said.

(Japanese original by Hidenori Kitamura, Tokyo City News Department)

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