Japan iGaming Gets a Needed Individual Boost from Professional Bicycling

Lee R. - May 18, 2021

Bicycling has emerged as a way to supplement IR expansion to bolster Japan's iGaming market.

In the newly emerging market of Japan, a new healthy form of sport betting is taking hold: bicycling.

Bicycling League in Japan

Japan’s Keirin bicycle racing league is playing a solid role in the recent boom in the Japan market, where steadily climbing revenues in recent years reached just under JPY750 billion (US$6.9 billion) for 2020 overall ticket sales for a 13.6% year-on-year increase.

Drivers of Growth

Drivers of growth are attributed by experts to two factors: long-term digitalisation shifting brick-and-mortar venues to online formats; and the Covid pandemic which spurred residents of Japan to seek more entertainment online.

Growing Popularity Online

A key form of entertainment is bicycle racing, which is currently trending upwards as preferred content which the Japanese are watch live on their desktops or mobile phones.

Need for Bicycle Events

While the Keirin competitions were familiarly curtailed by the pandemic, causing disruption to revenue earning for the nation’s 43 velodromes operated predominantly by city governments, increases on online engagement and wagering stand to attract new investments.

Re-establishment of Land-based Racing

Land-based events are set to expand again as well, including at the Kyoto Mukomachi Velodrome, where a “Midnight Bicycle Racing” programs has been announced starting next month, providing that the current state of emergency in the prefecture is lifted beforehand as scheduled.

Midnight Racing History

Originally instituted in 2011, the Midnight Race program includes races taking place in the late evening from 9pm to 11pm—with Kyoto Mukomachi Velodrome becoming the 23rd national venue to host the Midnight Races.

The Japan Market Impact

Bike racing represents a popular event re-expansion in Japan to match the earlier IR projects driving iGaming investment in Japan, a lucrative economic region which barely 2 years ago was considered woefully slow developing in iGaming regulation.

Japan's Potential

According to experts, Japan represents a potential “US$10 billion or US$20 billion” casino gaming market. With so may hopes hinging on IR investment in Japan, it is encouraging to see individual events provide unique specialised entertainment for Japanese players.


IR resorts are ambitious grand scale projects, but the groundwork for strengthening any iGaming market needs to be laid through engaging more players in Japan. The rise in online popularity of bicycling leagues in Japan represents a strong key step in that direction.



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