In this paper, the author argues that gambling businesses managed by public authorities face issues regarding monopolization, regulation of space and socio-spatial exclusion.
Since the end of the 19th century, informal private gambling has been strictly outlawed in Japan, while both the national and local governments have resorted to investing in the gambling business to secure revenue. At present, with the exception of lotteries, 120 gambling facilities such as keiba (horse race), keirin (bicycle race on a short track), autorace (motorcycle race on a short track), and kyotei (motorboat race on a square pond) are offered by 21 prefectures and 443 municipalities. These are called "public gambling".
In his book The Production of Space, Henri Lefevre notes that non-productive expenses are made according to the neocapitalist's interest. Therefore, the author refers to the three elements that constitute space according to Lefevre: spatial practices, representations of space and space of representations. The author conducted field work in and around the motorboat gambling facility operated in Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture, and the highlighted the "gambling space" using Lefevre's scheme mentioned above.
From 1997-2000, the author interviewed: Tokoname motorboat officers, residents from the areas (sinkai-cho) around the motorboat facility, police officers, members of the "koie-sinkai crime prevention association", a security guard and ticket sales women employed at the motorboat office, shop managers in and around the motorboat facility, and the motorboat gambling fans. The author also conducted participant observation studies of more than 400 motorboat gambling fans. The author's findings are as follows:
Firstly, while the public authority, the Tokoname motorboat office, adopts several measures to draw visitors to the motorboat facility and thus ensure income, this practice includes spatial separation, i.e., separating the Tokoname motorboat gambling fans from the public. This is partly because the nature of gambling itself threatens social order, therefore, the public authorities control and enclose gambling fans. These practices of exclusion are observed in their spatial practices.
Secondly, shops and restaurants are located on the route taken by visitors from the Tokoname railway station to the motorboat facility. These shops and restaurants sell alcohol, low-priced light meals and magazines or newspapers regarding gambling. Fans regularly take the route from the Tokoname railway station to the motorboat facility and purchase these goods from these shops. Loitering fans and torn blank tickets visibly distinguish the "gambling space" from the rest of the city. Japanese public gambling fans are largely men over 60 years of age. However, in Tokoname motorboat facility, 60-70% of motorboat gambling fans are men, who are 60 years and over. Therefore, the "gambling space" is occupied by middle and old-aged men is littered with blank tickets.
Thirdly, measures adopted by the local community, the "koie-sinkai crime prevention association", neighborhood residents and the police to regulate the behavior of visitors' create negative representations of Tokoname motorboat gambling facility and its fans. In 1970, as the number of visitors increased, a few residents living around the motorboat facility founded a crime prevention association in order to put a burglar alarm to their house. At this time, the Tokoname motorboat office began sending presents, such as handkerchiefs, rice, pans and soaps as compensation to residents. The activities of "koie-sinkai crime prevention association" provided subsidies by Tokoname City, although they are not strictly monitored. They unfairly claimed and represented the undesirable behavior of visitors in order to protect their interests.