In Japan and a recent government-backed survey has reportedly found that the pachinko sector is steadily recovering from its month-long coronavirus-linked shutdown while still facing a raft of longer-term problems.
According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, Japan is home to over 10,600 pachinko halls although then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe controversially asked every one of these venues to temporarily shut their doors in early-April so as to help counter the spread of coronavirus. The source detailed that the industry began a large-scale re-opening only a month later with many larger premises subsequently instituting a range of social distancing protocols such as plexiglass barriers and increased distances between machines.
In an effort to better understand the impact of the lockdown, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has now reportedly released the findings of its Statistics Survey on Specific Service Industries, which looked at pachinko outfits that traditionally account for around 70% of the sector’s annual sales. This investigation purportedly detailed that these firms’ aggregated revenues for May had fallen by 77.5% year-on-year to about ¥66.58 billion ($628.27 million) although their tally for June was only some 31.1% lower.
There was reportedly even better news for July as the state-sponsored examination found that the surveyed operators’ aggregated July sales had dropped by just 21.1% year-on-year to roughly ¥232.89 billion ($2.19 billion) although worries still abound due to the fact that the 31-day period had moreover represented the 13th consecutive month of comparative decreases.
Although patrons are now seemingly being attracted back to pachinko halls across Japan, one unnamed operator with multiple premises in Tokyo reportedly told Inside Asian Gaming that the current situation remains ‘tough’ due to the fact that ‘customers aren’t all returning.’ Despite the fact that some larger venues have been able to attract upwards of 2,000 players a day post-lockdown, the source explained that many smaller enterprises have since gone bust to suggest that the gap between individual halls themselves is widening.