Public gambling in Japan appears to have maintained strong growth despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to latest figures.
The Japan Racing Association (JRA) ended its first half of the 2020 season on 28 June and announced sales proceeds of JPY1,475,268,728,200 (US$13.76 billion), a 1.5% year-on-year increase.
Due to the spread of the COVID-19, horseracing has continued without live spectators since 29 February, but online betting slips have fared well.
The sales of the 12 G1 Races from the February Stakes, held on 23 February, to the Takarazuka Memorial, held on 28 June, were JPY193,584,690,400 (US$1.81 billion), an 8.5% year-on-year decrease. JRA has announced it will contribute JPY5 billion (US$46.7 million) to combat infectious diseases.
Boat racing has also been in good shape. The SG 30th Grand Championship, held for six days from 23 June at Hatsukaichi City in Hiroshima Prefecture, reported sales of JPY14,651,611,900 (US$136.7 million), well above its target of JPY10 billion (US$93.3 million) despite having no live audience.
SG is Japan’s most prestigious race, but this is the first time season sales of the tournament have exceeded JPY13 billion since 2009. A boat race official commented that online ticket bets had been popular and suggested they were “gaining some fans from pachinko.”