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Japan is reportedly considering an expansion of sports betting by 2024, which could be a $ 65 billion market

Posted on April 28, 2021, 11:32 a.m.

Last updated: April 28, 2021, 12:00 p.m.

Todd Shriber

Japanese policymakers are said to be in internal talks to expand the country's sports betting offer to include popular baseball and soccer leagues - a step that, if taken, could result in a sports betting market valued at an estimated $ 65 billion.

Japan sports betting
Scenes from the Japanese Nippon Professional League. The country is said to be considering a major expansion in sports betting. (Picture: Bleach report )

Unidentified sources say Financial Times betting on the Nippon Professional League - one of the most competitive baseball associations in the world after Major League Baseball (MLB) - could take place as soon as 2024, with wider betting on J-League football taking place the same year.

Bets on the J-League are currently allowed on the lottery system known as "Toto". ”But this is very different from traditional one-game betting.

The advantage of the Toto system is that people who want to Play don't really need to know anything about sports, ”states Japan Visitor. "Sports diaries tend to offer their picks, although randomly selecting winners seems to be just as effective as finding out who will win."

Japan also has an eight-member professional basketball union - the Japanese Basketball League - and golf is popular with the local population. But it is not immediately clear whether these sports are part of the plans discussed by lawmakers.

The sports betting landscape in Japan is attractive

Today, sports betting is not prohibited in the Land of the Rising Sun, but is limited to cycling and horse racing, as well as motorboat and motorcycle racing.

Apart from horse racing, these sports are not popular with American bettors. But just like in the US, online betting is gaining ground in Japan. In 2019, betting on these four sports for a total of 55 billion $ revenues, according to FT .

And just like in the US, especially before the 2018 Supreme Court Ruling on the Protection of Professional and Amateur Sports Act (PASPA), industry experts and observers say Japanese gamblers are already sending billions of dollars a year to overseas bookmakers. Most of these bets are directed to Nippon Professional League and J-League matches.

Home to the world's third largest economy, strong disposable income, tech-savvy citizens, and already enthusiastic players, Japan is a coveted market for sports betting operators.

Speaking of operators ...

Some analysts are speculating which operators will benefit most if Japan extends regulated sports betting, considering MGM Resorts International (NYSEARCA: MGM) and Entain Plc (OTC: GMVHY) to mind.

The justification for this thesis is simple. Partner Bellagio and local partner Orix are the only group applying for an integrated Osaka resort license and are widely viewed as potential winners of one of Japan's first three casino permits.

If MGM gets this approval, it will likely aim to bring the rapidly growing BetMGM brand, which has Entain 50/50 partner on, to Japan if sports betting expands there.

"If MGM wins the casino license and sports betting is legalized, we believe Entain could work with MGM to develop this market," according to British research firm Peel Hunt.

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