Horse Racing Betting in Japan: Risks and Opportunities

Japan’s horse racing history goes back to the 1860s. While at first, it served as entertainment for the foreigners, it soon became popular among the Japanese community. More crucially, it has emerged as the leading option for sports gambling in Japan. It is a popular legal gambling idea as compared to motorcycle competition, powerboat racing, pachinko parlors, and bicycle racing.

Currently, Japanese racing is managed by two organizations. At the federal government level, the Japan Racing Association organizes the international & principal race schedule. The organization has ten racetracks; two in Hokkaido, two in Kansai, two in the North of Honshu, three more in Tokyo, and one in Kyushu.

Many competitions occur at the local level under the management of the National Association of Racing for the local governments. The NAR has 24 tracks throughout the country. During the regular season, JRA horses cannot take part in NAR events and vice versa unless they are dirt graded or exchange events. Horse transfer between the two organizations is possible. NAR horses can also participate in a JRA Grade 1 event through qualification in step competitions or winning a dirt or international Grade 1 event.

Types of Racing

There are three kinds of Japanese horse competitions; Flat, Jump, and Ban’ei. Flat and Jump variants are common worldwide, but Ban’ei is the country’s style. It is primarily about strength than speed and involves competing over a 200 meters dirt track while pulling a sled weighing anywhere from 450kgs to one ton with jockeys weighing at least 75kgs balancing on the sleds. It does not make for an exciting photo gallery which may explain its waning popularity.

Flat racing is the most popular form of competition, both among casino fans and among horse racing fans. It features the best horses and jockeys, and it is the focus of all professionals. Japan’s version is largely middle distance and thus is a test of both speed and endurance. Jump events are not as popular, and it is quite different from how the western jump events happen.

They use a shorter course and a twisted path. Also, no racecourse holds more than two jump events in a day. Finally, they are mostly left for the horses who have retired from the flat races as few are bred specifically for this kind of competition.

Opportunities for Gambling enthusiasts

There are three main positives from the scene that should encourage you to consider betting within Japanese gambling laws based on the race card & results.  Also, being as horse racing has so many enthusiasts in the country, online casinos are now making it a betting option. Gamblers can now make it an option the same way they have slots and card games on a portfolio. This encourages players to engage in an activity that they already enjoy, but now from the comfort of their homes.   

Types of Betting

First, the JRA race card allows you to choose up to eight betting tickets. You are not restricted to the win and show gambling options giving you more room to use your online casino strategies. The main type of bets are;

  • Win: where you bet by picking the winner
  • Place: you choose one horse that could win, place second or third. However, if there are only 5-7 runners in the race, you can only place from first to second.
  • Quinella: you choose two horses that will emerge first and second in any order.
  • Bracket Quinella: you choose two brackets to emerge first and second in no specific order. It is a gambling option unique to Japan.
  • Quinella Place: you choose two horses that will finish either at positions one and two, one and three, or two and three in no specific order.
  • Trio: you bet on three horses that will emerge position one, two, or three in any order.
  • Exacta: you choose two horse races that will emerge one and two in the right order.
  • Trifecta: you bet on three horses that will emerge one, two, and three in the right


Tournaments provide opportunities for casino betting, and the more competitions, the more opportunities. NRA competitions lack the prestige of Las Vegas gambling, meaning their odds may not be as rewarding. On the other hand, the JRA competitions attract the best competitors and even foreigners, which increases the chances of winning.. You also have a more reliable pool of information on which to base your parimutuel betting strategies. There are 27 main tournaments throughout the year except during January, while December is the busiest month.

In terms of prestige, the five biggest events in Japan are;

Japan Cup

It has been held since 1981 and takes place at the Tokyo Racecourse on the last Sunday of November. It is an invitational event with high entry requirements, and it is contested on turf and covers about 1.5 miles. The Cup involves a maximum of 18 runners, and it is open to any horse aged three years and above.

Japanese Derby

This competition is locally known as Tokyo Yushun and goes back to 1932. It is contested over 2,400 meters and serves as the second leg of the Japanese Triple Crown tournament. In 2010 it was opened to international competitors.

Tenno Sho

There are two Tenno Sho events over the course of a Japanese horse racing calendar. One is held in the spring and the other in autumn. Both are International Grade 1 races and take place in Tokyo.

Yasuda Kinen

This is another Tokyo Racecourse competition, and it is also a part of the Asian Mile Challenge. It covers eight furlongs, and it is contested on a turf track. Any two legs winner of the Mile challenge gets a bonus of 115 million Yen (about $1,000,000).

Yushun Himba

It is also known as Japanese Oaks, and it has been around since 1938, and it has since then acquired Grade 1 status. It is a flat kind of competition contested over 2 400 miles.

Prize money

The JRA has some of the richest purse amounts in the world. Its premier event, the Japan Cup, has a purse of ¥476 million, about $5.6 million. The advantage of such high sums is the quality of field it attracts with horses you can easily track their results in the racing calendar. It also gives you competitive gambling odds and the opportunity to win a big jackpot at the casino. All you have to do is make a deposit with JCB and place your bet. To do this, you can use reliable JCB online casinos (JCB オンラインカジノ), because security in such bets is very important, especially when such big money is at stake.


As with any sports betting market, there are risks here too. The main difficulty, though, is getting all the necessary information. JRA provides an easy-to-use race card & results racing guide, and you only need to download adobe acrobat reader to access the PDF copy. However, it misses certain nuances, such as the design of the different racetracks, which will affect the performance. The quality of races at the local level is also not top-notch, so you are restricted to the JRA tournaments, which only happen on the weekends. However, you can use several online betting resources for analysis as you place your bets.


Japan’s horse races are a prime opportunity for gambling. It may have certain differences from the western scene, but it is largely designed with gambling in mind. They have wide markets, and the country is a host to some of the most prestigious competitions in the world. The competition cards also have English translation, so language will not be a problem. The crucial role is to collect sufficient research on the history of the racecourses and the form of jockeys and horses. You can make decent to prestigious winnings, especially if you spread your risks across the various types of wagers.


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