As Japan moves to legalize casinos in the country, a smaller gaming entertainment industry may be heavily affected. Pachinkos, which is a game that combines slot machines and pinball and has originated in the country, may soon be slapped with heavy taxes as the government makes gambling legal.
The game, though always identified as an arcade entertainment, has in recent years been under scrutiny as a form of gambling as players have the option to trade their winnings for yen, instead of the customary snacks or food. With the legalization of casinos, pachinko halls, which have often existed in the fringes of the law, may be included under the jurisdiction of gambling laws to better regulate its existence. While some smaller operators oppose the idea, larger operators are inclined to be in favor of the move. Dynam Japan Holdings chairman, Yoji Sato, which operaes one of the country’s biggest pachinko hall said, “Any industry that cannot be accepted or understood by society will cease to exist.” He added, “Dynam is in principle behind any move to clarify the industry’s role society.” However, while the issue of pachinkos has been dragged in the casino legalization issue, many lawmakers still have no idea how to go about the arcade game. According to Seiko Noda, member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is behind the move, has acknowledged that small hall operators “are quite afraid they will be ordered to pay more taxes.” As such, the group is carefully considering things and proceeding carefully.
But taxes aren’t the only things weighing heavily on pachinko halls. The younger generation, which has been exposed to the digital world, is more interested in playing games in their mobile phones and gadgets that going to actual halls to play. In fact, the industry’s revenue has dropped to almost half to 9 million yen (over USD$88,000) from the average of 31 million yen (over USD$300,000) yearly. With the way things are going, many hall operators may be forced to merge with bigger ones or fold up their business. Haruo Kinoshita, president of hall operator Kicona noted, “Back in the heyday people worked hard and played hard. Now everyone’s grown up. I’m worried for the future.”
[via GMA News]