The ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic leads to a major boost in stay-at-home betting on motorboat races in Japan

Cover photo credit: Matthias Harbers

AMAGASAKI, Hyogo — There has been a surge in betting on motorboat races in Japan as more people stay at home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Sales of pari-mutuel tickets for motorboat races held by the Amagasaki Municipal Government in fiscal 2020, which ends in March this year, are expected to reach 46.3 billion yen (about $440 million) — up 8.9 billion yen (about $84 million) from the previous fiscal year. The municipal government has decided to put 2 billion yen (about $19 million) from this revenue into a public finance adjustment reserve fund, which is spent on countermeasures against the novel coronavirus, as part of its February supplementary budget.

A municipal government official said, “While people have fewer opportunities to go to pachinko parlors and other places than before due to the novel coronavirus, a growing number of patrons are probably using their phones to bet on races from home.”

The sum of pari-mutuel ticket sales at the 24 boat race stadiums nationwide is expected to surpass 2 trillion yen (about $19 billion) for the first time since the “economic bubble” of the 1980s. Many people tied to the sport are surprised by this unexpected success.

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