Leading UK newspaper The Financial Times has reported that the Japanese Government is considering moves to legalise gambling on football (soccer) and baseball, as a consequence of the economic damage inflicted on professional sports by the Covid-19 pandemic. Allowing the people of Japan to bet openly on the country’s two most popular sports has never previously been a serious policy option, but according to an estimate by Kansai University, sports in Japan lost an estimated $2.5bn in the first six months of 2020 and it is estimated that the combined sports betting market as proposed could be worth $65bn annually. Currently, Japan allows betting on horseracing, cycling, motorbike racing and motorboat racing, with combined 2019 revenues of around $55bn. But many Japanese use overseas credit cards and offshore online facilities to bet on other sports, arguably depriving a domestic market of as much as $40bn a year. Industry analysts believe that the appetite for betting on the nation’s two most popular spectator sports could be huge, arguing that the Government should move to ensure that these potential revenues should remain within Japan. There is a sense that previously rigid attitudes have softened during the pandemic, with the Government commissioning research into attitudes towards deregulation of betting on football and baseball. Those in favour point to the 2016 attempts to introduce laws legalising casinos in the country. In October last year, internet group Cyberagents estimated that the Japanese sports betting market could generate as much as $65bn in annual revenue if the more popular sports were added to the permitted list. And in December, Japan Association of New Economy, a lobbying group created by ecommerce group Rakuten founder, Hiroshi Mikitani, called for the ban on sports betting to be lifted as part of a series of recommendations the group made to revive Japan’s tourism industry.