Japan Witnessed a Rise of Poker Popularity After WSOP and an Illegal Poker Room Busted in Tokyo

At least 14 people were arrested last week in Tokyo, Japan after a police raid was conducted where they discovered an underground poker activity was happening in the city. According to the authorities, four of these individuals were deemed to be operating the poker club and were currently under police custody.

Illegal poker operations in the city

Aside from the four masterminds of the illegal poker club, at least ten people were arrested who were participating in the real money gambling games in 4D results.

According to the local media reports, the underground gambling operation has been happening since May this year and it has earned at least ¥27 million which is slightly equivalent to US

$237,000. The ten individuals who were caught participating in the poker games were released albeit all of them could still face prosecution for illegal gambling.

The purported operation happened in the district of Shinjuku in Tokyo, the part of the metropolitan where high-end hotels, restaurants, bars and the 2020 Olympics stadium resides.

Sudden surge of poker popularity in Tokyo

It is unlikely for poker to be the center of underground gambling business in Japan, the game that is much expected to be used is baccarat given the popularity of it in Asian gambling scenes.

However, considering the increasing participation of players of Japanese descent like Motoyoshi Okamura and Kazuki Ikeuchi in the WSOP poker series these past few years, poker has increased in popularity in Japan since then. In the recent iterations of a series of world poker events, both Japanese poker participants have taken home the coveted WSOP bracelets.

In Japan, gambling is illegal and violators of the law could be arrested and could be jailed for a long time. The only gambling activities allowed in the country are pachinko machines and 4D lotteries that are mostly common in many Asian nations. Although playing poker as a casual game is not prohibited, if it is real money gambling, then it is illegal.

Even though it wasn’t confirmed if the poker club was giving prizes, it was mentioned that the operators of the illegal poker game charged 5% take on all hands.

Gambling has made ripples in the nation

In the past few years, a slew of illegal gambling activities popped up in several locations in Japan.

Recently, a raid was conducted in Tokyo and captured an alleged Yakuza leader. The operation was supposed to be connected to the activity in Sumida Ward. Even though it was not as profitable as most illegal casinos, it was reported that the total revenue of the operation has produced US $111,000.

In September 2020, a Yakuza boss was also arrested who had been operating illegal casinos in Tokyo. In both incidents, the police believed that the money that was collected in these operations aids in funding organized crime.

In 2018, the Japanese government has finalized its IR Policy that will help establish IRs or integrated resorts in the country to boost tourism and help curb illegal gambling.

Japan is on the verge of legalizing gambling

Even though the government is in the final stages of green lighting the IR projects, the Yakuza warned the government that they will take over the gambling establishments.

Despite the threats of the crime organization, the government is determined that the IR projects will help fight the underground gambling industry. They also believed that it will be the start of a few steps of the country moving towards the possible legalization of gambling.

The sudden surge of popularity of poker in Japan due to the continuous participation of Japanese talents in world poker tournaments is an indicator that it is the dawn of a new era in the Japanese gambling industry.

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