The most popular sports to bet on in Japan 

Most of us assume that the most popular sports to bet on are very similar across the world. Football as the undisputed leader followed by the usual suspects Basketball, Tennis, American Football, Ice Hockey and so forth. But Japan will of course turn such assumptions upside down. 

The Japanese betting and gambling market 

Japan is a regulated betting market, which means that some organised forms of betting and sports are legal to bet on in Japan. But this also means that certain sports are banned from betting on. 

Casino is outright banned but might change in the coming years when/if the Integrated Resort Bill becomes a realityOnline casino in Japan is a completely different story though, where most/many international casinos are also at least dipping their toes in the Japanese market. 

The most popular sports to bet on 

I have yet to meet a person who can guess this, and believe me I have asked the question on many occasions. It is a rather unfair question though, since as you can probably guess by now, the popularity is dictated by the sports that are available to bet on (in a fully legal context). 

The four most popular, and only, sports to bet on are horse racing, powerboat racing, bicycle racing, and speedway motorcycle racing. 

The most popular sports 

Does the above also mean that the Japanese are crazy about powerboat racing, and that it trumps football any day of the week? Of course not. Football is the number one sport also in Japan, followed by the national sport. No, not Sumo wrestling, in the same way that not all Swedes wear Viking helmets to work, or not all Britts have a pint of ale for breakfast. Baseball is the national sport, and most Britts prefer orange juice at breakfast. 

The future of the Japanese betting market 

As the international casinos and betting operators are booming on the Japanese market, and brick-and-mortar casinos will likely open their doors in the coming years, things are bound to change. At some point the regulators will have to acknowledge the current discrepancy between the most popular sports and the sports officially available to bet on. And who knows, perhaps the Olympics 2022 (officially 2021?) which might or might not take place in Japan will give the Japanese betting market an extra push in this direction? 

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