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Japan to Begin Selling Lottery Tickets Online

Image credit: Yuya Tamai

Japan’s internal affairs ministry announced on Friday that public-run lotteries will be permitted to sell tickets online beginning this October. The change will apply to all major lotteries, including regular Takarakuji tickets, Jumbo Takarakuji, the Numbers games and Loto series.

The Japan Times reported on Friday that customers will be able to purchase tickets online by signing up for an account at the official lottery website. With an online account, customers will be able to make payments online to purchase tickets and any winnings will be paid via bank transfer.

An unnamed ministry official told the Japan Times that one reason they’re looking at online sales is to boost declining sales. In reality, that’s probably the sole driving force. Japan’s lottery sales have been falling since 2005. Total lottery sales in 2005 clocked in at roughly ¥1.1 trillion. By 2016, total sales had dwindled to ¥845 billion.

The same lottery official told the Japan Times that the lotteries are also looking at ways to grow their customer base among younger generations. Currently, 60% of in-store sales are attributed to customers 50 or older. The official also explained that the vast majority of tickets are sold at outlets that often keep limited business hours, and that there are certain areas with a dearth of outlets.

Online sales are anticipated to solve both problems and provide Japan’s lotteries with a significant boost in sales. Seiko Noda of the internal affairs ministry recently said she’s hoping to see online sales attract half a million users within six months of going live.

Noda also said that “efforts to reach potential customers in younger generations have been weak” and that “expanding sales channels to web and smartphones is needed.”

A prior Japan Times story published just a few months ago seems especially prescient in light of this latest announcement. In September, they reported that 2016’s revenue numbers were the lowest since 1988 and have been in a constant decline since 2005.

According to that story, lottery organizers have tried a number of tactics to boost sales and get younger people more interested in the games. However, those results have resulted in limited, short-term success.

Past attempts at increasing jackpots (and even doubling one) only led to temporary sales increases. Once the initial excitement wore off, ticket sales began dipping again. The lottery has also recently began looking to using social media to promote its drawings to a younger crowd. The results of the latest marketing efforts remain to be seen.

Is it possible to buy Japan lottery tickets online?

There are only a couple of lottery sites that claim to offer Japan lottery tickets online, but none of those are very prominent or well-known sites to us. None of our recommended lottery sites cover any of the major Japanese lotteries.

While it would be nice to try the various Japanese lotteries online, we do not believe it is worth the risk of playing at small lottery sites. The most prominent website purporting to offer Japanese lottery tickets is Lottoshop.com, but even that site is mostly unknown. A quick visit to the front page of the website shows an extremely outdated design, confusing navigation and few details regarding how they pay players.

Searches for Lottoshop.com reviews likewise yield little results other than a review published to LottoExposed.com. The reviewers there appear similarly skeptical and give Lottoshop a thumbs-down rating. There are few other mentions of Lottoshop posted anywhere else online.

Other sites offering Japanese lotto tickets are even less established. In the end, it’s probably best to pass on the Japanese lottery unless you actually live in Japan and can buy tickets from authorized retailers.

A  better option would be to try other international lotteries offered by established, trusted lottery sites such as TheLotter or LottoKings (if you live in the USA). It is not possible to play the Japanese lottery online at those sites, but they do offer many other alternatives with jackpots that are just as large.

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