Can slots compete with Japan’s pachinko parlors?

As Japan considers its first casino, will pachinko give way to Vegas-style slots? 

Talks considering Japan’s first casino are already underway. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes that his government could pass a bill that would allow the construction of the first casino in the country in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If this bill becomes law, could Las Vegas’ slot machines compete with the highly-popular pachinko parlors in Japan?

Slot Machines are the cash cows of Las Vegas. They generate at least 75 percent of a casino’s income, making them a must-have for all bricks-and-mortar casinos not only in Vegas but in other parts of the world as well. Japan’s pachinko machines are very much like slot games with only one difference: slot machines operate using reels, while pachinko games use metallic balls.

Both machines use huge LCD screens, inviting sounds, and attractive artwork. If slot machines are so similar to panchinko arcade games, how could the former compete with the latter? Japan may be welcoming of foreign products but it’s a country that patronises its own really well.

According to the BBC, pachinko is both a huge business and a national obsession in Japan, earning around 30 trillion yen on an annual basis. There are more than 12,000 pachinko establishments in Japan, which make around four times the revenue of all the world’s casinos combined.

Creating anime-themed slots could be one way to make Las Vegas slot machines popular in Japan. Gaming experts say that it is vital for companies to create slot games that emulate a country’s culture. A superhero-themed slot like Superman that is hosted on InterCasino – the world’s first online casino outfit that opened in the late ’90s – is geared towards comic-book enthusiasts who grew up loving The Man of Steel. Perhaps in Japan, choosing Naruto, Samurai or any popular manga as a slot theme will help attract a lot of Japanese customers.

Casino gaming providers that are interested in capitalising on the Japanese market should be careful in marketing slot games in Japan. People in the country are very proud of their national identity, and there are currently very few to no slot games that reflect Japanese culture.


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