Some pachinko firms defy state of emergency declaration

While the largest pachinko companies Dynam and Maruhan quickly announced the suspension of operations of their outlets in the seven prefectures covered by the Japanese government’s state of emergency declaration, some smaller firms have decided to defy the official call for business suspension.

For example, Okura Holdings reported to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, “the group intends to continue operating all of its pachinko halls across Japan, including the five pachinko halls in the areas under the state of emergency.”

They also noted, “Despite the ongoing operation of the group’s pachinko halls, the directors of the company expect that the customer traffic of these five pachinko halls may significantly decline, resulting in an adverse impact on the group’s revenue and profit before income tax.”

In the highly fragmented pachinko market, various small companies have taken divergent stances on the coronavirus crisis, sometimes inviting public criticism. For example, Japanese social media is replete with photos of avid pachinko players standing in lines outside the open parlors with no sign of any kind of social distancing or other preventive measures.

On the other side of the coin, the Abe government has so far refused all proposals that companies taking losses from voluntary Covid-19 closures should be compensated for losses. Many of the smaller pachinko firms were barely above the bankruptcy level even before the latest crisis hit.