Pachinko is a type of vertical pinball game and is one of the most popular pastimes in Japan. A manual or electric spring-loaded flipper is operated to fire the iron ball toward the top of the pachinko board. When a falling ball enters the target hole, a lot of balls are released. You can exchange the accumulated balls for prizes such as cigarettes and sweets. There are about 12,000 pachinko parlors across the country with annual sales of about 20 trillion yen. While pachinko, which includes horse racing, bicycle racing and boat racing, falls into the legal category of gambling in Japan, pachinko is only tolerated by the government. For so long, it has been considered a dirty business, run by people on the fringes of society. The police check the slingshot machines often to make sure that the customers are not being scammed. They are also interested in ensuring that shopkeepers do not cheat on their taxes by underreporting their daily deposits and withdrawals. One way police could ask stores to do away with machines that take cash in person is by asking them to do away with them. A long time ago, machines that used prepaid cards instead of cash became the norm. In pachinko parlors, the balls are not received directly in cash. The metal balls are first exchanged at the counter for tokens that vary in shape from shop to shop, and then you have to walk out and walk a bit to a small hut, usually very close to the main building. The other winners are lined up in a small hole in the wall of the hut waiting to be handed their tokens. The hand comes out of the hole, takes the token and returns the cash. However, there are times when the cash boxes are more than a block away or on the upper floors of neighboring buildings, so those on the winning side have to be careful and listen to the instructions.