Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Japan to examine impact of COVID-19 pandemic on gambling addiction

People watch a cycling race in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, in this March 17, 2017 file photo. (Mainichi/Kunihiro Iwasaki)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government's national gambling addiction survey will add metrics this fiscal year to measure the impact of stay-at-home measures amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Betting chit sales at horse racetracks and boat racing venues as well as ticket sales at off-track betting shops have been halted as part of efforts to discourage people from going out unnecessarily during the pandemic, and online betting has expanded as a result. There are worries that this will increase the number of gambling addicts in the country, and exacerbate the symptoms of those already addicted. The gambling addiction survey will seek to compare the figures before and after people started staying home to prevent infection.

Gambling addiction is a type of psychiatric disorder, in which the individual becomes entirely absorbed in pachinko, horse racing or some other betting activity, and loses the capacity to self-regulate their behavior. The Japanese government's fiscal 2017 survey found that about 3.6% of Japan's adult population -- or some 3.2 million people -- had dealt with gambling addiction at some point in their lives. It was estimated that some 700,000 people -- or 0.8% of the adult population -- had been addicted to gambling in the year leading up to the survey.

The World Health Organization has warned that the risk of becoming addicted to gambling has become higher during the coronavirus crisis, as people seek to relieve stress and anxiety stemming from the pandemic. This has prompted the Japanese government to not just discover the ratio of suspected gambling addicts in the population as it usually does in the triennial survey, but also to examine the impact of the coronavirus on the problem.

(Japanese original by Kazuhiko Hori, Political News Department)

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media