With new and emerging markets being placed under the spotlight at CasinoBeats Summit, discussions around the ongoing developments in Asia are sure to intrigue and excite. One nation to take centre stage during the Summit is Japan, and although the nation introduced plans for its first casino last year, it is yet to regulate online casino gambling despite having an audience with a clear appetite for igaming engagement. Set to appear at the event, Rhino Entertainment’s Country Manager for Japan, Maya Yazaki, explains the nuances of the Japanese market, detailing a “growing sentiment” for regulation while stressing that “current market trends cannot be overlooked”.

Maya Yazaki, Rhino: ‘trust is paramount in the Japanese market’

With new and emerging markets being placed under the spotlight at CasinoBeats Summit, discussions around the ongoing developments in Asia are sure to intrigue and excite.

One nation to take centre stage during the Summit is Japan, and although the nation introduced plans for its first casino last year, it is yet to regulate online casino gambling despite having an audience with a clear appetite for igaming engagement.

Set to appear at the event, Rhino Entertainment’s Country Manager for Japan, Maya Yazaki, explains the nuances of the Japanese market, detailing a “growing sentiment” for regulation while stressing that “current market trends cannot be overlooked”.

CasinoBeats: Firstly, can you tell us more about the Japanese igaming market and how it has evolved in recent years?

Maya Yazaki: Japan has long been associated with diverse entertainment industries, including government-regulated horse racing, powerboat racing and bicycle racing, alongside the widespread popularity of pachinko and slot machines enjoyed by players nationwide.

According to the ‘DK-SIS White Paper 2021 Edition – 2021’ data, the publicly disclosed market size of the pachinko industry amounted to a substantial ¥14.6trn, indicating the significant scope of Japan’s gambling market.

While Japan passed legislation in 2018 to legalise casinos as part of its integrated resort initiative, there is a growing problem of online gambling addiction. Furthermore, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a tailwind, fueling the growth of the online gambling market.

Consequently, there is a growing sentiment in favour of regulating online gambling. It will be interesting to observe how the government navigates the anticipated challenges and whether it opts for legalisation accompanied by measures for responsible gambling and adherence to anti-money laundering guidelines in the future.

CB: What are some of the local trends that are essential to success in the Japanese market?

MY: Understanding and respecting Japanese cultural nuances is essential. We should consider the below three points in order to succeed in the Japanese market.

Localisation: Tailoring offerings to suit the preferences and behaviours of Japanese players is crucial. This involves not only translating content but also adapting features, promotions, and payment methods to align with local norms and preferences.

Focus on Quality: Japanese players typically value quality and reliability in products and services. Offering high-quality products, smooth user experiences – including the speed of payment transactions – and excellent native customer support can help build trust and loyalty.

Brand Trust: Brand trust is paramount in the Japanese market. Players tend to prefer established and reputable brands. Operators must prioritise transparency, security and integrity to foster trust.

CB: With Japanese players placing a significant focus on brand trust, what can operators do to ensure they have a strong connection with players?

MY: Communication is the key to building brand trust. Operate with transparency and integrity in all dealings. Provide clear and easily accessible information about the company, its licensing and terms and conditions. Avoid deceptive practices and prioritise honesty in marketing communications.

Japanese players are known to be avid readers, preferring to read the terms and conditions before participating in any promotions. While simple content may be visually appealing, providing transparent information about the terms and conditions of promotions with longer text is preferred.

CB: Do you believe a localised approach is essential to the Japanese market, for operators and suppliers in the region?

MY: Yes, a localised approach is essential for operators and suppliers in the Japanese market. Japan has a unique culture, language and set of consumer preferences that differ significantly from those in other regions.

Some might think that since we live in 2024, AI can translate to any language, however, this is not the case when it comes to nuances and understanding its culture and market trends. Having native speakers on the team is crucial to approaching a unique market such as Japan.

It is also important to note that Japanese consumers have distinct cultural preferences and sensitivities that influence their purchasing decisions. For instance, McDonald’s Japan regularly introduces seasonal menu items to coincide with Japanese festivals and events and frequently collaborates with popular local brands, such as the world-famous Pokémon, to create unique menu items and promotions. These limited-time menu items are very popular and often sell out.

Adapting marketing strategies, content and promotions is essential for connecting with players. It’s also important to note that consumer preferences are not static and can evolve over time due to various factors, therefore, understanding the current market trend cannot be overlooked.

CB: Why is it so important that discussions like the one happening at CasinoBeats Summit when it comes to embracing new markets?

Discussions at industry events like CasinoBeats Summit play a crucial role in helping companies and individuals embrace new markets by facilitating knowledge sharing. At an event like this you can discuss market insights, regulatory guidance and how to mitigate these, while it also has some good networking opportunities.

Participating and learning from these discussions can be instrumental in achieving success in new markets.

CB: Are there any key lessons the Japanese market can learn from the European market in terms of regulatory frameworks or player engagement?

MY: Yes, there are valuable insights that the Japanese market can learn from the European market regarding regulatory frameworks and player engagement. For instance, the European market has adopted strict regulations, emphasising player protection and prevention of illegal activities in the gambling industry.

Similarly, the Japanese market needs to prioritise player protection under appropriate regulations to ensure industry transparency and credibility.

However, it is essential to strike a balance. Regulations should be stringent enough to deter illegal activities, but not overly restrictive to drive players toward the black market – a trend observed in some European markets.


CB: What are some of the key things you hope to learn from the CasinoBeats Summit Malta?

MY: I’m interested in hearing more about game design and new features that might be coming out as I like to play a little myself, but it’s also good to see what I could potentially push in Japan.

There has been quite a lot of turbulence in Japan over the past year so it’s a good time to meet up with industry peers and discuss some of the issues and challenges and start planning a bit for the future.

………..

Maya Yazaki will be providing further insight into the Japanese market during the upcoming CasinoBeats Summit in Malta.

You can currently purchase your tickets with a nice Group Discount for the price of just €400 (a discount of  €200 off a standard ticket).

Operators and affiliates can apply for complimentary all-access passes to the event.

Operators – apply for a free pass!

Affiliates – apply for a free pass!

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