What Are the Sports the Japanese Love to Bet On?
Last Updated: April 26, 2023
Sports are a very popular topic all over the world, and, of course, people in Japan are big sporting fans. But you would probably wonder as to precisely what sports are popular there unless you are familiar with the culture.
This article is going to find out what the most popular sports are in Japan and which ones are especially popular for betting.
First of all, before talking about Japan’s favorite sports, one thing should be mentioned.
Betting on sports in Japan is currently illegal except for horse racing, motor racing, bike racing, boat racing, and soccer lottery, although the ‘betting’ isn’t really the same as in Western countries.
Therefore when it comes to sports that Japanese people actually love to bet on LEGALLY NOW, the answer would be one of the sports mentioned above.
Hypothetically though, if we consider what people would be interested in betting on perhaps in the future, the discussion would be a lot different. Let’s start with baseball.
How Big Is Baseball in Japan?
Without any doubt, the Japanese are crazy about baseball. Looking at the survey done by the sports industry job board site, the biggest professional league in Japan is NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) in terms of the total number of games, the size of revenue for each team, and other facts.
In addition to the popularity of professional leagues, amateur baseball also gets a lot of attention.
High school (ages 15 – 18) national baseball tournaments are held every spring and summer. The summer championship is actually one of the major seasonal events next to summer and firework festivals.
Many professional team scouts pay attention to the talent in those tournaments, not only from domestic leagues but also from the MLB.
News coverage of high school baseball tournaments during mid-August is also extensive.
From an ethical perspective, high school sports would not be a good betting option, but the whole baseball market would be a huge attraction for people to bet on.
Japanese Love Football
As a matter of fact, this is the second most popular sport according to the same survey quoted for baseball.
Football is big in Japan, and there is a domestic league called J.LEAGUE which would likely be the market that people would love to bet on.
Their annual revenue reached about 90 million USD in 2017-2018, and the total number of teams has also grown to 55, including all the levels of leagues (J1, J2, and J3).
There are some big names, who, once they had passed their prime, came to J.LEAGUE to play their last professional seasons,
For instance, Andrés Iniesta and Fernando Torres have attracted even more attention to the league.
When it comes to international football, Japan has been competing at the top level in the Asian region for some time. The country has been selected as the World Cup Asia representative on seven consecutive occasions.
It all started after the establishment of J.LEAGUE in 1993. Some readers might still remember Japan’s stunning performance in the World Cup 2022, where it beat Spain and Germany in the group stage, as well as the controversial goal by Mitake at the very last minute.
Within only 30 years of the birth of the professional league, Japan has shown the world its dramatic development in football.
As the league is looking for further expansion, betting will surely add more enjoyment for the audience and provide a valuable income source for the league.
What Comes Next for Sports Betting in Japan
To conclude, there are so many more sports that people are interested in betting on, such as basketball, golf, and tennis.
There are some that are quite unique to Japan, such as marathon and Sumo wrestling, but they are definitely worth looking into.
Going back to the legal situation in the country – according to a betting specialist in Japan from Casilife, there is one big problem with legalizing sports betting.
This is how to deal with all kinds of possible cheating, such as match-fixing. There have already been some cases in Sumo wrestling and baseball games.
However, there seems to be a lot more of an advantage in opting for betting rather than just giving up on the opportunity without even trying.