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Pachinko parlors are places that resemble arcades and are packed with pachinko machines. Some machines include themes such as trendy anime series or well-known films like “Jaws”. According to the BBC, most parlors allow smoking. But many also have smoke-free areas, and some even have translated signs for foreigners visiting Japan.

In Japan, gambling is prohibited, yet pachinko parlors find a way around the law. According to Min Jin Lee, the author of “Pachinko”, parlors use a loophole by having an intermediary between the winning of the balls and then the conversion into cash”. In other words, while parlors are not permitted to exchange players’ balls for money directly. They can exchange them for tokens or a ticket, which players can then exchange for cash at third-party establishments.

Pachinko History

It’s a pinball hybrid, an arcade game, and a slot machine that was first developed as a kid’s game in Japan in the 1920s. The objective of pachinko is to get as many balls into winning pockets as possible. But there’s a twist, just as in every arcade game. Hundreds of brass pins cover the playing surface, blocking the balls’ journey to the prize pockets. Below is a video of a pachinko game in action.

How it Works

Pachinko is a simple game to play. According to Japan Travel, the machines are sorted first by price and likelihood of winning. The cost of the balls that fit within each device can vary, for example, from one yen to four yen for each ball, and so on. Depending on your knowledge and level of experience with the game, you can choose the best pachinko machine.

After choosing the appropriate machine, you insert money, press a button to release a group of tiny metal balls, and begin playing. It would help if you properly depressed the machine’s play lever to get the balls to fly far and high enough to land in one of the winning pockets. More balls in winning pockets mean more rewards up for grabs.


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