Photo: SoraNews24
national

Number of pachinko parlors in Japan decreasing rapidly; down 12% in two years

35 Comments
By SoraNews24

Who doesn’t love the Japanese pastime of pachinko? Its parlors are obnoxiously garish blights on urban landscapes that are surrounded by auras of stale cigarette smoke and desperation, but clearly a lot of people love it considering how much money pachinko parlors make and just how many of them there are across the country.

▼ This gigantic red sign towering above the city is for a pachinko parlor

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Photo: SoraNews24

According to a tally by the National Police Agency, the number of parlors nationwide stands at about 8,500. However, at the beginning of 2020 that number was over 9,600. Clearly the overall impact of COVID-19 was a factor even though early attempts to vilify these establishments as potential super-spreaders were shown to be false. Over the course of 2020, 604 parlors closed down across Japan.

The beginning of 2021 looked to be worse, with January alone booking 84 closures. Projecting that across the next 11 months, it seemed as if about 1,000 pachinko parlors would shut their doors for good. However, January and August turned out to be unusually high periods for ending pachinko businesses, likely because they mark the end of busy seasons. As a result, only 579 parlors ended up closing throughout 2021.

▼ One problem with closures is that the buildings are often so huge, few other businesses are interested in buying them. This one was rebuilt as a supermarket in 2020, but that also closed up in 2021.

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Photo: SoraNews24

Although not as bad as the previous year, it still amounts to a total of 1,183 pachinko closures in the past two years. It’s a significant number that made many netizens take notice and leave comments such as the following.

“Great! Let’s aim for zero soon.”

“Isn’t it strange there are so many slightly illegal gambling businesses to begin with?”

“When I was younger parlors were a good place to get a part-time job, but I guess times are tougher now.”

“The times are changing, but I will miss the free public restrooms they provided.”

“It’s pretty bad that there’s a gambling parlor in front of most stations in Japan.”

“People should just invest their money instead. It’s pretty much the same as gambling.”

“The parlor in front of my parent’s place closed down last March and I involuntarily pumped my fist in excitement. It’s a supermarket now.”

“Who needs pachinko when you have app microtransactions now?”

“It’s good that they’re decreasing, but I wonder why it’s happening so fast?”

Pandemic restrictions were undoubtedly a catalyst for the closures, but the writing has been on the wall for these businesses for quite some time now. The Japanese government has been gradually working on allowing legal casinos in various locations around the country which would provide stiff competition even though they are expected to be geared towards inbound tourists rather than residents of Japan.

▼ This is the old Pachinko Slot Venice that closed down in 2020. Some say that late at night you can still hear the sound of clacking metal balls and incessantly ringing bells.

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Photo: SoraNews24

Meanwhile, the National Police Agency enacted a sweeping reform of machine mechanics that would render upwards of 1.5 million pachinko and slot machines illegal and in need of replacement. When faced with rather bleak future prospects and the costs of replacing so many machines, a lot of businesses are clearly not seeing the value in carrying on.

The question remains whether this trend will continue in future years, but it is beginning to feel like pachinko is a fading part of a bygone era.

Sources: Pachinko Pachislo Johojima, Web Green Belt, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Is pachinko headed for extinction in Japan? Studies reveal huge drop in players, hall operators

-- Why have no COVID-19 clusters occurred in pachinko parlors?

-- Pachinko parlor worker lists the three worst types of customers in Japan’s gambling dens

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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Pachinco fading away? There is literally still like 8500 stores. Talk to me again about fading away when that number actually at less than a 1000. 8500 is still a freaking huge empire. And it's still gambling. There should not even be that many of them.

And the excuse of these buildings being huge than nobody want to buy them is pure nonsense. If you sell or rent it at a reasonable price, there are plenty of people out there willing to start something.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

Who doesn’t love the Japanese pastime of pachinko?

Most people.

27 ( +29 / -2 )

Cigarette smoke, noise, gambling addictions, people spending all their family finances, risk of coronavirus, lack of sunlight, what’s not to like?

20 ( +22 / -2 )

Oh dear! Bad news for the North Korean economy!

9 ( +19 / -10 )

Abenomics is working, inflation makes people have less discretion budget to spend on unnecessary things now.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Cigarette smoke, noise, gambling addictions, people spending all their family finances, risk of coronavirus, lack of sunlight, what’s not to like?

Just goes to show you haven't been in a pachinko parlor within the past two years or so!

ALL the pachinko parlors in Okinawa, and I believe throughout Japan are 100% smoke free on the premises. Anyone wishing to smoke has to go outside to a designated space, or the enclosed room within the building.

It's the law. Anyone talking about "smoke" is ignorant.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

However, at the beginning of 2020 that number was over 9,600. Clearly the overall impact of COVID-19 was a factor even though early attempts to vilify these establishments as potential super-spreaders were shown to be false

The only people who made these claims are people who have ZERO idea or knowledge of how these places operate and have been operating during the pandemic.

Just like the claims by the government about closing drinking establishments at night, as EVERYONE knows COVID only strikes after 8 PM!

Pure guano! COVID has been a MAJOR factor as many people lost any disposable income that they had previously used playing the slots or pachinko. This SHOULD be noted here, but is conveniently left out, because it really wasnt a properly researched article!

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Cigarette smoke, noise, gambling addictions, people spending all their family finances, risk of coronavirus, lack of sunlight, what’s not to like?

You forgot parents leaving their kids in car while they play pachinko.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Some claimed this was harmless fun during the early days of CoVid, relatively safe with all participants facing only their machines and to enraptured to engage in any socializing. Stark contrast to the crowded break-rooms and heavily-congested throngs waiting outside waiting to get in.

- Clearly the overall impact of COVID-19 was a factor even though early attempts to vilify these establishments as potential super-spreaders were shown to be false. Over the course of 2020, 604 parlors closed down across Japan. -

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

“Close them all” but, … Japan needs the revenue from those stupid enough to feed cash to these machines rather than feed their families.

The governmental justification is the money will eventually trickle back to some of Japan’s enslaved, working poor through social programs and services.

In the meantime, here’s some paperwork for your children to chew on until those services arrive.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Thanks to my profession as a " Marine Engineer " on ship's that I got to visit Japanese ports in the 1980's and 1990's .The first thing about Japan that caught my attention was the " PACHINKO PARLOURS" not seen in any other country I visited during my infancy voyages at sea.Was amazed at seeing men in crowded parlors silently absorbed in a type of ball game ." Pachinko" is Japan's unique identity as a Nation .

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Like any other business affected by the covid but that will soon recover ..

Long live to Pachinko !!..

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Natural Consolidation. Too few people around to warrant 5-6 in the same km block.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is a good thing! Keep it up until there are none.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Pachinco fading away? There is literally still like 8500 stores. Talk to me again about fading away when that number actually at less than a 1000. 

Well, the article indicates the number has fallen by 12% in 2 years. If that pace keeps up, it could fall to just 1000 locations in just a few more years.

Something to hope for at least. I agree, there are still way too many of them.

And the excuse of these buildings being huge than nobody want to buy them is pure nonsense. If you sell or rent it at a reasonable price, there are plenty of people out there willing to start something.

Actually I don’t think it is nonsense and it reinforces the negative impact the pachinko business has. The buildings they occupy are purpose built as pachinko halls and are costly to re-purpose for other types of businesses. This is especially the case in Japan where the construction and real estate industries are based mainly on a “demolish and rebuild” mindset where when a business closes, the building gets torn down and the land sold to another business which builds something else. It’s incredibly wasteful, I’ve seen brand new buildings torn down after just 2-3 years use because the business using them went bankrupt. With pachinko halls when they go bankrupt in 99% of cases the building either gets torn down or just abandoned to rot. It’s incredibly wasteful.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Good places for free parking and a toilet. That’s about it.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I wish I have their time ! That would be great . If they are winning money would be great to spend so much time there

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Fading economy...No one has spare cash to waste playing Pachinko.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Wages have declined so this makes sense.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Thanks to my profession as a " Marine Engineer " on ship's that I got to visit Japanese ports in the 1980's and 1990's .The first thing about Japan that caught my attention was the " PACHINKO PARLOURS" not seen in any other country I visited during my infancy voyages at sea.Was amazed at seeing men in crowded parlors silently absorbed in a type of ball game ." Pachinko" is Japan's unique identity as a Nation .

Dont know too much about "Pachinko" parlors do you? Many if not most are only half or even LESS actually pachinko, the rest are slot machines!

Now tell me there arent slots machines in other places!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The Japanese government has been gradually working on allowing legal casinos in various locations around the country which would provide stiff competition even though they are expected to be geared towards inbound tourists rather than residents of Japan.

This is a load of guano too! Only three locations are being planned for casinos, and Japanese citizens would not be allowed in without paying an entrance fee and only a certain number of days a week.

Again, another poorly researched article. Actually it sounds like someone wrote this without checking anything out besides a few numbers, and then made stuff up along the way to fit their agenda!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Great news, except for North Korea.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

So one thousand places less to leave the kid in the parking car on hot summer day?

Great news folks!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I’m sure the Yakuza, North Korea and my ex-brother in law are all unhappy about this

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Why don't Japan get rid of all Pachinkos and make big casinos like Macau at each corner of Tokyo prefecture?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

All Pachinko parlors are to be completely closed down

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Pachinko Parlors has destroyed the young lives of so may people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pachinko!? Now that is a Pandemic that is about to dwindle all the way to junk yards.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pachinko is an escape. Japanese don’t smoke as much dope or do nearly as many other drugs as other countries do to escape. Well, except speed so they can work more…

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hopefully people are wising up to the pitfalls of gambling, but that’s unlikely. Gambling has always been with us, just as prostitution has.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another 88% to go.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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