The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s revision of medical fees on 7 February has resulted in gambling addiction treatment being covered by public health insurance. These measures have been implemented to get a handle on problem gaming with an eye on the opening of IR facilities.
According to a survey conducted by the government in 2017, it was estimated that 3.2 million people in Japan have had issues with problem gaming, such as pachinko or public gambling, in the past. The majority of these cases are believed to be pachinko addiction. The number of outpatients was 2,019 in 2014 but had jumped to 3,499 people by 2017.
Problem gaming is classified as a type of mental illness and generally refers to a condition in which gambling interferes with daily activities or social life, and treatment is required.
Symptoms can include trying to win back losses, seeking bigger thrills, gambling to relieve frustration or depression, feeling relaxed when gambling, always thinking about gambling, being unable to control oneself, lying about gambling, being unable to maintain important relationships, and getting into debt due to gambling.
According to DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, American Psychiatric Association), if four or more of those criteria are satisfied, the patient should be diagnosed with a “gambling disorder”.