Casinos for You
GamblersPick guide to the history of online and land-based Pachinko gambling games. Learn about the origin of the casino game, it’s transition from the USA to Japan and its influence on modern slot machines.
Pachinko is one the largest revenue-generating casino games in Japan, which has managed to avoid being labelled as gambling since the 1940’s. Pachinko is the poster child for what happens when gambling legislation becomes too specific and in so doing opens itself up to legislative loopholes.
Enjoy our guide to Pachinko gaming and discover the interesting origin of this infamous game. Learn how you can become a Pachinko master and where you to enjoy online games inspired by this unique experience.
How To Play Pachinko
Given the fact that the game board is styled after a vertical pinball machine, but without the bumpers, many consider Pachinko to be a pure game of chance. Ardent fans of the game, however, claim that it is skill-based, that by fine-tuning your launch you can beat the machine and take your place as a Pachinko Master!
Bets are placed by shooting the ball bearings onto the game screen using the launch control. This control allows you to fire the balls at varying strengths, from soft to hard. The farther right you turn the launch control the harder the ball will be fired. The key here is to find the optimal fire strength as too soft and the ball won’t be released. However, firing it too hard will cause the ball to overshoot the game screen and disappear directly down the Exit chute negating any chance of you winning.
In earlier Pachinko machines a big win would be triggered by landing your ball bearing in a slot on the game known as a Start Chucker. This special zone triggers the games jackpot payout and can be triggered as many times per session as you are fortunate enough to land a ball in it. Skilled players claim to be able to launch the ball into the optimal zone for landing this jackpot payout.
Japan has a rich and colourful culture and the Pachinko parlours have taken the best video slot machine features and applied them to the modern Pachinko machine. Rather than merely triggering a jackpot payout, the more advanced machines use these Start Chucker pocket as a trigger for a myriad of mini and feature games which offer free balls, additional winning pockets and mega payouts while boosting the games overall entertainment value.
The more the merrier is the aim of the game when playing Pachinko. The more successful you are the more ball bearings you will win. A truly successful run will see you hailing a staff member several times to bring you additional boxes to replace the ones you have filled.
The friendly staff will count your combined ball bearing winnings and provide you with a coupon to stating the final ball count. This can then be used to claim prizes, or better yet cash if you know where to go.
Pachinko & Gambling in Japan
It is estimated that more than 10% of the Japanese population are obsessed with Pachinko, a simple vertical pinball game played with ball bearings and which on the surface offers no financial reward. Yet the Japanese Pachinko industry is worth more than €180 billion dollars per annum year on year.
Far from its informal for-amusement-only image Pachinko is serious business in Japan. Pachinko balls, which acts as the game’s currency, are purchased either from a teller or via a cash slot in the machine with 100 balls costing the player approximately €3.40 (400 Yen). These ball bearings, like with casino chips, are accumulated as you play and then cashed in at the end of your session.
However, unlike at a regular casino, the Pachinko parlour won’t offer you any cash. They do however offer the chance to trade in your winnings for prizes, but most gamblers ignore this option choosing to leave the game room with a coupon in the amount of their winnings.
Around the corner from the Pachinko parlour, you will find a non-descript shop that will redeem your receipt for cash. Given that the Pachinko parlour and the cash shop are in separate buildings, and registered as separate businesses, it effectively circumvents Japan’s ban on gambling.
Prior to the use of coupons some Pachinko rooms would reward players with sets of chopsticks as prizes. These number of sets and colour of the chopsticks would vary depending on the size of the win. The redemption shops would then offer to buy these chopsticks from the players – the prices paid for various colour chopsticks clearly listed on the walls or in the price guide.
Origins of Pachinko Machines
The formal roots of Pachinko’s invasion of Japan can be traced back to the USA. A Chicago based toy company produced a simple wooden version of Bagatelle pinball for children to play called Corinth. It is this game that was a massive hit in Japan by the 1920’s, in sweet shops where the game was used to draw and hold the attention of children so they would buy more sweets while mom and dad did their shopping.
Post World War 2 Japan was starved for entertainment, had no money to waste and held a surplus of ball bearings that had been created to further the war effort. This created the perfect storm for the re-emergence of Pachinko machines as a form of adult entertainment. The first adult focused Pachinko game room launched in Nagoya in 1930, this however shut down with the onset of the war. After the war these rooms were reopened as a cost-effective way of entertaining the masses.
While classic Pachinko games were either wood or steel with pins hammered in place to create patterns that would bounce the balls around the modern machines from manufacturers like Sankyo and Nishijin took the genre to new heights with the inclusion of digital sound, entertaining lighting effects while also removing mechanical flippers and introducing the digital wheels which act as the launcher.
There are also a wide variety of themes when it comes to Pachinko gaming. Much like slot themes you find Pachinko games themed after bands, films, anime, sporting events and much more allowing for the introduction of celebrity machines, co-branding and advertising opportunities.
Similarities Between Pachislot & Pachinko?
While both Pachislot and Pachinko games are found in the same gaming parlours the Pachislot machines are closer to the UK’s fruit machines than they are to Pachinko’s vertical pinball machine layout.
Pachislot is played on a 3-reel classic slot machine. However, one of the major differences between Pachislot machines and standard Vegas-style slots machines is that the player is responsible for stopping each of the reels individually by hitting the corresponding button on the face of the machine. This makes it a game of skill not a game of chance.
Pachislot games offer players a series of either small value or high-value payouts as with any other slot machine. Low-value payouts are enjoyed on any given spin, however, in order to win a big payout, you need to trigger the bonus mode.
Bonus mode is active when the Hibiscus flowers on the body of the machine are randomly lit. In this mode, the player must stop three Seven symbols of matching colours on the games winning paylines in order to win a Big Bonus.
In addition to prizes, the game screen contains Replay symbols. This allows you to play another game without costing you any additional coins.
Cashing out is an interesting ritual shared by both games. You hit the service button on the machine to call a staff member over to your machine. Crossing your forearms to make an X will tell them you’re ready to cash out your session. The staff member will collect your coins and run through a counter – this confirms your win total and filters out any coins you may have used which came from another game room – and you will be handed a receipt for the total.
This receipt can be used to purchase a wide array of prizes in what amounts to a mini storefront which acts as the main counter. Everything from food to toys to household appliances is up for grabs. Everything except for cash, as that would make this gambling which is illegal in Japan.
Online Pachinko Slots
Pachinko is not only gaining ground in the world of land-based gaming rooms, but it is also starting to have an impact on the online gambling sector as more casino games adopt its features and game modes.
A highly popular online and mobile slot that incorporates the best features of both Pachinko and Pachislots is Hawaiian Dream by Golden Hero. The slot machine is a 3-reel casino game with 5 fixed paylines which allows you wager from €0.20 up to €500.00 per spin.
Hawaiian Dream also offers a variety of Pachinko inspired payout and bonus features such as Bonus symbols, 4-tiered Rush payouts and Respin symbols with a 97% RTP! Winning the Ultimate 7 Rush payout of 50x bet at the games maximum bet of €500 will result in a stunning €25,000 win.
If you would like to try your hand at a Pachinko inspired slot machine Hawaiian Dream is available at Vera and John Casino today.