Pachinko revenues running 75% pre-pandemic levels

Partitioned Pachinko Machines

Across Japan, pachinko parlor revenues are running at about 75 percent of the levels that they attained before the onset of the Covid pandemic.

While the size and diversity of the industry do not allow for entirely comprehensive and exact figures, the monthly “Statistical Survey of Specific Service Industries” conducted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry found that in February sales per game machine in the roughly 1,200 parlors surveyed were JPY301,000 (US$2,760), or about 75.2 percent the 2020 figure.

The January 2021 figures were almost exactly the same.

Pachinko parlors were made subject to business suspension requests in the original state of emergency in the spring of 2020, but have not been asked to close in subsequent emergencies, in spite of the fact that the later waves have actually been larger in terms of the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and in the death toll.

Nevertheless, sales have never entirely recovered. In October 2020, sales per game machine did reach about 83.6 percent of the pre-pandemic level, but the onset of the Covid third wave reduced this figure to the current levels.

With Japan now entering a fourth wave of the pandemic, it seems unlikely that a further recovery can be expected in the near term.

Additionally, tighter regulation of the gambling aspects of pachinko machines and demographic changes could mean that the industry never reaches 100 percent of its pre-pandemic performance.

Michael Penn is a journalist and scholar based in Tokyo, Japan. As a journalist, he both writes print news articles and produces news videos. On the video side, he has several years of experience doing it all by himself: reporting the stories, shooting the video, and editing the packages. As a scholar, the bulk of his past publications have been about Japan's modern relations with the Islamic world.