Japan’s Pachinko Parlours

Pachinko may not be the most common casino game in the world and, indeed, it is not well known in the world at all. Except, that is, in Japan. With the rise of the online casino platform, however, the Western world can also be introduced to this game, though perhaps not to the extent as could be experienced in the actual Japanese Pachinko parlours.

The Game Explained

Pachinko can best be described as a game that seems to incorporate both the conventional Western slot machine and the much-loved pinball machine. Indeed, it combines the elements of money with the fun-loving aspect of pinball, and players will feed money into a colourful machine with bright flashing lights. There are no reels, however, and instead, the playing field is dominated by one that resembles the layout of a pinball machine.

In Pachinko, the ball that the player plays with will fall from the top of the machine and be met by various obstacles and scenarios on its route to the bottom of the machine. Depending on what the ball hits or where it lands, more balls may be obtained.

While the player has no control of where the ball actually ends up landing or can in no way influence the ball’s journey on its way from the top of the machine to the bottom, the one element the player can control is the launch pad. Players will be able to decide how high or low to launch the balls, causing the ball to drop into the game in different locations and thus affecting the entire outcome of the game.

Pleasure Parlours

In Japan, playing for money is illegal. The Pachinko parlours, then, that is, the halls where Pachinko machines are commonly found and where avid players gather to play, cannot exchange the balls for cash. Instead, the machines operate much like arcades in that players can choose from a variety of prizes in exchange for what they have achieved during the game.

Most commonly, these prizes will range from commodities such as electronic devices or bicycles to handy must-haves such as shopping or grocery vouchers.  For a large number of balls, players can exchange these for a so-called special prize, which are often gold- or silver-plated figurines. They can then take these to another store, usually located nearby, and exchange them for cash. Since the store is not directly affiliated with the Pachinko parlour, this keeps it well within the confines of legality, and provides a nifty way for players to enjoy their Pachinko parlour games without any restrictions.

Pachinko Parlours Globally

Due to the intricate nature of pachinko, these parlours are not really found anywhere else in the world, and certainly not in other casino establishments. There are only very few casinos in the casino capital of the world, Las Vegas, that even offer a Pachinko machine.

This is primarily due to the fact that the Pachinko machine, unlike a standard slot machine, does not simply pay out coins or chips for wins made. Instead, the balls within the Pachinko machine will be collected in the reserve of the machine itself, and require an attendant to come and claim the balls, after which they will escort the player and the claimed balls to the prize counter. This is unsustainable in the Western world casino culture, and hence Pachinko machines and Pachinko parlours in the Japanese style remain largely uncommon in the Western world despite their popularity in Japan.

This, however, is changing in modern times as the game is beginning to be introduced to online casinos and growing in popularity in the digital arena.