Japan proposes launch of baseball-themed sports lottery


Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) executives met with representatives of Japan’s 12 professional baseball teams to start discussing the introduction of a lottery themed on the sport at a meeting in Naha on Feb. 21, according to sources.

They discussed adding baseball to the sports subject to the government-supervised Sports Promotion Lottery (called “toto”). It is believed that none of the 12 teams strongly oppose the idea.

The system under consideration is similar to “toto Big” used for professional soccer, in which computers instead of customers will randomly predict the winners of games. But in the case of baseball, lottery participants will not know which particular games are involved.

Though talks with the players’ organization and umpires are also necessary, the lottery could be introduced as early as 2019, sources said.

During the season, a total of 36 games are usually held each week. Some of these would be included in the lottery. The better will only find out which games were subject to the lottery when the results are announced.

Toto currently covers a lottery on professional soccer games in Japan and abroad, which harvested about 111.8 billion yen ($1 billion) in fiscal 2016. Part of the profits are awarded to sports organizations.

If professional baseball games are covered by the lottery, some of the proceeds will be provided to the NPB and the 12 teams, which they would then use to promote baseball.

In Japanese professional baseball, a match-fixing scandal known as “Kuroi Kiri Jiken” (Black mist incident) occurred around 1970. Because of that, people involved in baseball have been cautious in introducing a lottery themed around the sport.

Meanwhile, a growing number of politicians and others are hoping a baseball lottery will provide them with more money to develop sports before and after the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.