Pachinko Slot Machines

A $234 Billion Industry and Japan’s Largest Leisure Activity

slotsPachinko and its variants, account for more than two-thirds of total revenue volume in Japan’s gaming industry. Generating an estimated $234 billion in gross revenue per annum and employing over 310,000 employees, the Japanese pachinko industry is the largest service industry sector in Japan.

Pachinko is the most popular source of leisure and entertainment, (including dining), in Japan and a regular component of the Japanese lifestyle. In a country with a population of 127 million, an estimated 16.7 million Japanese play pachinko at some time each year, while an estimated 11 million people play on a regular basis.

Pachinko is believed to have originated in Japan in the 1920s based on a vertical pinball-like device called the Corinthian Game that was imported from the U.S. Pachinko is a game of chance, in which players shoot steel metal balls less than half an inch in diameter into a vertical machine that resembles a Western slot machine.

Pachinko machines today also feature digital displays in the background that resemble slot machines. The digital display is activated when the balls touch certain areas within the machine and allow the player to win extra balls. Upon completion of play, patrons can exchange balls for prizes, such as cigarettes, candy, and other merchandise, or a ‘special prize’ which can be exchanged for money.

Pachislo Slot Machines

Pachislo Slot machines, similar to Western slot machines, are also typically found in pachinko stores. The key difference between a Pachislo machine and a Western slot machine is that the player controls when each individual reel stops, thereby requiring a certain degree of skill as well as chance.

Another difference is that Pachislo machines do not offer the big “jackpot” payouts paid by Western slot machines. Similar to the machine’s low token retention, or “hold” rate, payouts are also kept modest, to conform to Japan’s strict regulations regarding speculative entertainment activities.