Popular ‘gachapon’ style gambling games have been deemed legal in Japan provided the girls being used to entice players to keep playing are cute enough, according to the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency.
Strange but True?
In a startling declaration, the agency came to the conclusion that if the girls displayed in certain games of this type were visibly attractive, then that was the reason players were playing them. However, if the girls were not attractive enough then there must be another reason for the players to keep playing – gambling.
The statement is a complete u-turn from the same agency that deemed Kompu Gacha (‘complete gacha’) a violation of Japanese gambling law only 5 years ago. It is a ruling that will be welcomed by players that enjoy gacha games but there are questions hanging over the authenticity behind the reasons for the ruling.
It is a statement that could have reverberations across the world. Skin betting and loot boxes present in online gaming for titles such as Battlefront II and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are very much a talking point in the US and UK right now.
At the moment, there are no laws banning such activities. Sadly, there is now evidence that they are exposing children to the practice of gambling.
Gambling across Japan is illegal. That does not mean to say that gambling does not take place.
Pachinko is a classic example. The game of pachinko is very similar to pinball. Pachinko parlors up and down Japan allow players to gamble by buying in to the game but they cannot win money from the games.
Instead, players can win tokens that can be exchanged for prizes. It is still effectively gambling but Japanese law considers it to be a game of skill.
A similar skirting around the law appears to now be in place for ‘gachapon’ games.
Beauty Is in The Eye Of The Beholder
The reason for Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency releasing such a statement relating to the attractiveness of girls used in ‘gachapon’ games is to ensure the games do not breach Japanese gambling laws.
Provided that ‘gachapon’ games encouraged players to play through emotional draws, rather than monetary reward then they could not be classified as a form of gambling. If the girls were attractive enough then it is believed that this was the emotional draw to the game that players experienced.
What the Players Say…
Examples of this come from a couple of players that openly admit that they are being lured to keep playing by reasons beyond financial incentive. In that respect, the conclusion from the Consumer Affairs Agency seems to hold weight.
Kantai Collection player Kevin Saunder said, “I don’t even like this damn game. No seriously, it sucks. You don’t even control anything, the battles just play themselves. Then you have to wait for hours for your ship girls to repair.”
He added, “I’m not sure why I keep playing. I’ve been meaning to quit, but every time I see their smiling faces I can’t bring myself to stop.”
Players have confessed to spending hours longer playing ‘gacha’ games than they had initially planned in order to earn their favourite girl. This can also result in players spending a lot more money on the games to make this possible.
Love Live! School Idol Festival player Conner Mitchell stated, “I’ve been trying for the past six hours to get the special winter Nozomi for this week’s event but all I’ve gotten is junk. I know it’s not looked upon very highly, but sometimes I just get the urge to spend a little so I can play the game how I want.”
This whole issue is unlikely to be something that rumbles long into the future. Japan is already gearing up to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Legal commentators in the country are hinting that laws could be passed in time for gambling to be widely legalized across Japan before that happens.
A bill was passed in 2016 to pave the way for casinos to be constructed and opened before the Olympics arrive in three years.
A number of high-profile casino operators are keeping a keen eye on the state of gambling within Japan. There will be no shortage of applications for operators that wish to build resorts across the country when gambling is given the green light ahead of such a major sporting event.
Any legal changes to gambling laws in Japan will almost certainly see a more relaxed approach to ‘gacha’ games. In the future, this topic could very well be forgotten. Unfortunately, for the time being, it’s leaving a very dark cloud over a gaming sector that is more popular than ever before.