Mega Moolah & Pachinko both offer jackpots but there's a 2bn Yen difference

The announcement that a new bitcoin casino now hosting the Mega Moolah jackpot slot is certainly going to be of huge interest to the myriad of online slots player and casino enthusiasts in Japan.

The country is at the forefront of the bitcoin revolution and has become one of the first countries around the world, not just to adopt the currency as legal tender, but to start establishing places to pay using bitcoin throughout Japanese society, such as in their shops, restaurants and similar.

One of the most attractive aspects of the new Bitcoin Casino site is that it will offer its customers the chance to indulge in some games that have previously been unavailable for bitcoin customers and the jewel in the crown of all slot games that falls into this category are Microgaming progressives including the portfolio crown jewel Mega Moolah slot.

At the time of writing the Mega Moolah jackpot has now climbed to a brand-new World Record figure of over $18.6 million (over 2 billion Yen or 2880 BTC) and it is still climbing. This has led to a massive increase in interest in the game, with more players playing it and of course, many more spins being played on it, which in turn is seeing the progressive jackpot fund rise even higher! See the Mega Moolah winners table here.

We're pretty certain that in among all those players playing Mega Moolah using dollars or euros as the currency, that there will be a large selection of Japanese players trying their luck through one of the many casinos available for them to join. Given it's huge jackpot prize it is easy to see why the Mega Moolah slot is proving so popular in Japan, but what are the other games that are equally popular in the country?

  • Sports Betting (horse racing and certain motor sports)

While not all forms of sports betting is technically legal in Japan (and Japan's somewhat clumsy legislation regarding gambling is another matter in itself), the government has allowed betting on certain sports.

The first of these is horse racing, which is a popular betting event in Japan much as it is in other hot spots of the world such as the UK, Ireland, the United States, France, Australia, South Africa and Dubai. This comes under the broader remit of the title Public Sports and there are essentially four different sports you can enjoy in the country.

  • Horse racing
  • Bicycle racing
  • Powerboat racing
  • Asphalt Speedway Motorcycle Racing

The sports are hugely popular in the major cities, most notably Osaka, Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama and betting is available at ticket booths at the venues for these events. The prize pool for punters is around 75%-80% of the total betting ticket sales for the race in question, with the remaining sales being used by the local governments as an additional source of income (in effect, a tax).

Certainly, these forms of betting are popular in Japan but they are not as convenient to play as the Mega Moolah slots (to bet, you have to travel to the track in question) and the money that can be won on the events, is much smaller than you can win playing Mega Moolah. Furthermore, with a 20%-25% tax levy on your bet, you are paying a significant chunk of every one of your bets in tax to local government.

  • Takarakuji - Lotteries

There are a number of different legal lotteries held across Japan on a regular basis. These can be organised in terms of a prefecture, or a city, if the city is large enough to generate enough support from its population.

Tickets to the lotteries cost between 100 to 500 yen (£0.67 to £3.37) and there are numerous different value prizes available to be won in each lottery, including a top prize that is typically worth around 100 million Yen (£673,430).

However, the amount of money awarded in prizes by the lottery can only be less than 50% of the total sales made for that draw. The Takarakuji law stating that the majority of money raised is to be used by local government and charities.

While the big jackpot win in the lottery is a decent size, it is still much smaller than even the smallest possible win on the Mega Moolah jackpot slot (assuming a British Pound balance). Lottery ticket vendors are easy to find around the country however, which does make it easy to play, much like the Mega Moolah slot, which can be played on mobile or desktop.

  • Pachinko

Given its popularity in Japanese culture, the Japanese government do not consider the game of Pachinko, a pinball-like game which is perhaps one of the closest cousins to slot gaming, a form of gambling. The fact that the game is massively popular and generates a huge amount in tax revenue may also play some part in why it is exempt from gambling law.

In 2011, there were almost 12,500 Pachinko parlours in Japan, all of which are privately owned. The game is played with balls, which the players initially pay for by inserting a credit card or cash into the machine. The more you pay, the more balls you receive.

You then fire the balls using a lever, and the balls then drop through the machine, hitting a series of pins and other obstacles on the way down. Newer Pachinko machines have a digital slot machine in the centre of the system, older machines had a mechanised slot.

When one of the launched balls lands in a specific part of the Pachinko machine, it will trigger the slot and when the slot spins, it will reward the player with a prize. This comes in the form of additional balls. However, the aim of the game is to land the jackpot on the slot, which will see the game enter the payout mode.

Once in payout mode, the machine opens a large payout gate. The player then has to get as many balls into the payout gate as possible over the different payout rounds. Each time you land a ball in the gate, this triggers a large number of balls being deposited into a separate tray at the bottom of the machine, which are collected in a ball bucket.

There are many different designs of Pachinko machine and they all come with different modes, some offering larger jackpots, some offering smaller jackpots as well as different game modes on each that offer different varieties of game play and different bonuses and features.

Pachinko parlours cannot offer cash to players, but in Japan there is a workaround for this. Once a player has landed a number of balls that they are happy with, they can then head to an exchange, which is close by and often run by the same owners of the Pachinko hall. Here players can exchange their balls for a number of 'special prizes' at an agreed rate. It is a similar process to collecting tickets in an arcade in the UK, which can then be traded in for prizes.

If a player wants to turn their Special Prizes into cash, they can then head to a different shop close by which will offer to buy the Special Prizes for cash. It is a convoluted system, but it is accepted within Japanese society.

As you can clearly see from how the game is designed, Pachinko seems to be a hybrid of pinball and slot game and has inherent characteristics of both built into the game. The way the cash prizes are awarded indirectly, by trading in the balls a player wins, ensures the game is legal.

It is clear to see that Mega Moolah and Pachinko share some similarities too, both offering jackpots. Certainly, there is a high probability that the millions of Japanese that enjoy Pachinko, might also enjoy playing slots and the Mega Moolah too.

Can I play Mega Moolah from Japan? Can I play in bitcoin?

Yes to both questions, Japanese players can head on over to the Where to Play Mega Moolah page to find casinos that will accept dollars and euros, or go directly to the Bitcoin Casino offer page to learn about the bitcoin-only casino offering you to play Mega Moolah with your bitcoin.

Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.

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