The Japanese population is shrinking. Birthrates have been dropping for the past two decades, and the country needs more babies. The Japanese government is attempting to push through a national child subsidy program. Enter pachinko.
The plan, reports Leo Lewis at the The Times, is poised to offer ¥13,000 (US$144) each month for each child if the plan goes into law. In the second year, the payment will increase to ¥23,000 (US$254).
While video game companies like Nintendo and theme parks appear like they will benefit from this scheme, Japanese analysts tell The Times that when governments make generous cash payments, especially into father's bank accounts, the payment becomes a "hidden" bonus for the gambling business.
Pachinko and pachi-slots (think slot machines, but with buttons to stop the spinning reels) are made by companies like Sega Sammy, which is merged corporation of video game SEGA and pachinko company Sammy, and Aruze, which used to own SNK.
Many Japanese video game companies create animation and graphics for the LCD panels in current generation pachinko machines. Video game characters as well as anime characters are typically licensed for pachinko parlors. Pachinko exists in a gray, netherworld of gambling in Japan and is thus legal.
Occasionally, there are stories of children dying in hot parked cars during the summer or children being abducted at pachinko parlors by strangers while their parents play pachinko.
If passed, the scheme will put money in pocket, pay for diapers and fund weekend outings. It's likely to create more happy families, but if the pundits are right, happy gamblers, too.