CHAIRMAN AND CEO
POWER SCORE: 1,148
POSITION LAST YEAR: 25
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Founded Maruhan in 1957 and still running it at age 89
- Japan’s largest pachinko operator in revenue terms
Even with COVID-19 putting the brakes on Japan’s plans to develop its first integrated resorts, the future remains rather uncertain for the nation’s once prolific pachinko industry.
From a peak of 18,000 parlors in 1995 – when the number of active players was estimated at 30 million – 2019 figures from Japan’s National Police Agency place the number of parlors at 9,638, down from 10,060 a year earlier, and machines at just under 4.2 million, down from 4.3 million in 2018. Active players are said to be below 10 million.
For operators like Japan’s clear No.1, Maruhan, the key to a prosperous future may well be outlasting its smaller rivals and taking as much market share as it can muster. Still, even before COVID-19 forced parlors Japan-wide to close this year, Maruhan was watching its sales slide, down from JPY1.55 trillion in fiscal 2019 to JPY1.51 trillion in FY20.
Impressively, the company’s founder, 89-year-old Han Chang-woo, continues to power along, ably supported by his son and Maruhan COO Yu Han.
Founded in 1958, Maruhan reached 100 parlors in 2002, passed 200 parlors in 2006 and 300 in 2014. Its parlors – often larger and more inviting than those offered by smaller rivals – include dining and other entertainment at some suburban locations, but diversification into banking in Cambodia and Myanmar have proven better bets.
For the full list of 2020 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.