Last Updated on 18 June 2023 by Nicholas Lim

PachinkoIf you were to walk around the streets of Japan, chances are you wouldn’t get to far without running in to a local Pachinko parlour. The bright lights and loud sounds of metal balls bouncing around can sometime be a little overwhelming to tourists in Japan. In fact, it’s estimated that Japan spends around 2 billion dollars a year at Pachinko parlours around the country. If we compare that’s around 30 times the annual money generated from casinos in Las Vegas and roughly makes up 4% of Japan’s GDP. The game has even spread out around the world and can now be played at land-based casinos as well as online casinos.

Despite being considered a grey area in Japan Pachinko parlours can be found everywhere. So how is the game played and why is it considered to be so popular? Keep reading to learn more about the history of the game of Pachinko and how it’s played.

A Little History About the Game

Pachinko was invented in the 1930’s in Japan. The game is actually based on an American game known as the Corinth Game. Around the 1920’s the game of Corinth was brought over to Japan and became a huge hit. It was found in local shops around the country. Corinth was quickly adapted into a new game which became known as Pachinko. The game was first introduced in Nagoya Japan starting in the 1930’s and quickly spread out all over the country. Within a very short time the game took over the nation and machines could be found everywhere.

The name of the game Pachinko comes from the name Pachi Pachi which refers to the sounds the machines would make when they were being played. For the next few years, the game exploded around Japan and became and instant hit. Then around the start of World War 2 the government of Japan decided to place a ban and Pachinko. The game was now outlawed around the country as the government needed the metal used in the balls for military purposes. After the end of the war Pachinko slowly began to reappear in shops around the country. Eventually the ban was lifted. In the late 80’s early 90’s the game began to evolve. It went from being a purely mechanical machine to one that now includes flashing lights and loud sounds as well as mini games you can access and new feature that weren’t previously available.

How to Play the Game

Pachinko can loosely be compared to a pinball machine. The game is played using a vertical board. The board consists of a ball launcher which is activated by turning a knob. This is arguably the one place where skill is involved as this will determine how hard and fast your balls are shot on to the board. The main board is filled with pegs and a small hole usually found in the center of the board. The goal is to get as many balls in the small hole in the center of the board. To get started, the player will first need to purchase a certain amount of balls to start playing. Most players in Japan will being with 500 Yen worth of balls. Once you have purchased the balls you can sit at your preferred Pachinko machine and start playing. Each machine will have different values and different mini games or options. This also helps create a variety among all the different machines.

Is Pachinko Legal?

Gambling has been outlawed in Japan however Pachinko parlours have found ways to get around any gambling restrictions. The way it works is as follows. Each ball has a value associated to it. The more balls you collected the more tickets you can claim. Once you cash out your tickets you will need to take it over to another shop usually located next door or around the corner where you can cash in your tickets for cash or prizes. Because both places are considered separate from each other this allows for a loophole to allow Pachinko Parlours to stay open. Besides this the amount of money Pachinko Parlours generate in tax revenue are also certainly helping them avoid any issues with gambling regulations.

Online Pachinko

Over the years Pachinko has evolved and can now be played online as well. Many sites offer casual versions of the game that can be played for fun. However, for those looking for a little more excitement and action you can also find Pachinko in many online casinos and other gambling sites. There are multiple versions available to play. The most common version of Pachinko at online casinos has you clicking the spin button in order to begin. The game will launch 100 balls in a row. Based on where the balls land during that round you will receive different amounts of coins. Some locations on the screen have a higher payout. No matter what your preference there’s a version of the game for everyone.

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