Government considering stronger measures and enforcement on non compliant parlors due to COVID-19 risks
Former rival of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won a partial victory in a bid to get non-essential businesses in Tokyo to close after an emergency was declared over COVID-19. However, Pachinko Parlors are resisting prefectural governors’ request, as stated by Economic Revitalisation Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is now enforcing Japan’s “state of emergency” declaration.
Pachinko, is a pinball derivative, the objective of the game is to fire silver ball bearings into a central scoring hole to trigger a jackpot. The game is played by millions of people and is a national obsession in Japan, generating $200 billion profit a year.
Pachinko has been around since 1940s. Nowadays, machines are much more sophisticated and addictive compared to the original mechanised game and has been classified as an “amusement” rather than a gambling game. The game operates in a legal grey space in spite of Japan’s strict gambling laws with only exceptions for betting on horse racing and some auto races.
Governor Toshizo Ido refers to cases of non-cooperation and states: “A little less under 20 percent of the pachinko parlors in the prefecture are still open. There are reports that ‘customers are lining up’ and some local residents have complained by telephone.”
in a press conference, expressed, “Experts have a strong sense of danger" about the current situation. "We're preparing to take stronger measures," he added.
Both Minister Nishimura and Governor Ido threatened the non compliant pachinko parlors with the exercise of Article 45 of the Act on Special Measures Against New Influenza, allowing authorities to make public the names of business operators refusing to cooperate with efforts in order to protect public health during the emergency.
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