Promotion of Lending Balls at Low Prices

These days, 1-yen pachinko and 5-yen pachislo are very common. Such systems date back to around 2004 when the pachinko industry began to vigorously employ marketing measures that explained how players could play at a low price in order to put the brakes on the decrease in players. Initially, at the initiative of game machine manufacturers, the pachinko industry was seeking game machines which allowed people to play at high oatari (jackpot) probability but at a low price. In response to this, however, some pachinko parlors started to lend balls at 2 yen each, which had previously been lent at a price twice as high, i.e., 4 yen each.

At that time, this approach was regarded as a “last-ditch” measure applicable only to pachinko parlors suffering from a lack of customers. However, this approach has gradually become more commonplace since about 2006. Around 2009, some major pachinko parlors drew a lot of attention because they decided to lend balls at half the price, i.e., 1 yen each (called 1-yen pachinko). Since then, other major pachinko parlors, which intended to operate multiple stores, actively integrated 1-yen pachinko and 1-yen pachinko has become popular across the country. This is partly because it is possible to maintain existing customers with 1-yen pachinko without the need to replace pachinko machines with new ones, which helps reduce costs, although it is primarily intended to allow people to play pachinko at low prices.

Breakdown of Game Machines as of April 2014
*Source: DK-SIS from Daikoku Denki Co., Ltd.

Nowadays, pachinko parlors offer 2-yen pachinko, 0.5-yen pachinko, 0.1-yen pachinko, 10-yen pachislo, 1-yen pachislo, etc., not to mention 1-yen pachinko and 5-yen pachislo, leading to diversified and complex pricing systems. Recently, some pachinko parlors have begun to use the “tax-exclusive pricing system,” in which customers are requested to pay consumption tax separately. We must admit that the list of charges has become fairly complex. The relevant law stipulates that precise ball rental fees must be clearly shown in pachinko parlors.

According to the law, balls and tokens must be lent at up to 4 yen and 20 yen each, respectively. Pachinko parlor operators can lend balls and tokens at prices within these ranges. However, it had been common practice to lend balls or tokens at 4 or 20 yen each, respectively, in consideration of equipment maintenance. When some pachinko parlors started to lend balls/tokens at such low prices, critics questioned the effectiveness and appropriateness of such an approach. However, more than 80% of pachinko parlors in Japan lend balls/tokens at such low prices. Nowadays, a wide range of people are satisfied with these trends. It is common for players to get balls/tokens at such low prices.