Ippei Mizuhara’s “Gambling Addiction” is Serious Even though Shohei Otani is Confirmed to be Clean | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ippei Mizuhara’s “Gambling Addiction” is Serious Even though Shohei Otani is Confirmed to be Clean

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Ippei Mizuhara (right) spent as much as 27.8 billion yen on illegal gambling. Shohei Otani’s innocence has been proven.

It seems Major Leaguer Shohei Ohtani of the Dodgers is likely to be considered innocent.

On April 11, investigative authorities held a press conference announcing charges against former exclusive interpreter Ippei Mizuhara for illegal gambling and fraudulent transfers.

The press conference was attended by officials from the Internal Revenue Service and special investigators from the Department of Homeland Security. Federal Prosecutor Martin Estrada stated that there is no evidence that Ohtani approved transfers from his own account to the bookmaker.

“We consider Ohtani to have been a victim,” he said.

According to reports from outlets like ESPN, Mizuhara illicitly accessed Ohtani’s bank account and fraudulently transferred at least $16 million (about 2.45 billion yen) to illegal bookmakers. This occurred over approximately two years from December 2021 to January 2024. It’s estimated that he placed bets around 19,000 times. The maximum penalty for bank fraud is 30 years.

The illegal gambling Mizuhara engaged in involved a massive amount of money, with the total wagered reaching an astonishing $182.9 million (approximately 27.8 billion yen). Losses after deducting winnings amounted to $40.7 million (approximately 6.2 billion yen). According to prosecutors, between January and March of this year, Mizuhara purchased approximately 1,000 baseball cards under the alias “Jay Min.” He transferred a total of $325,000 (about 49 million yen) from Ohtani’s account for the purchases.

Initially, reports indicated that Mizuhara had transferred $4.5 million (about 680 million yen) from Ohtani’s account to banker Matthew Bowyer. To think he had moved more than three times that amount.

Online reactions flooded in,

“I’m shocked by the amount.”

“I can’t understand the nerve to use 27.8 billion yen without permission.”

“This is a terrible betrayal.”

“I wonder who the Ichipei-san we’ve seen so far really is.”

Indeed, Mizuhara’s actions are reprehensible and should never be condoned.

However, even more alarming is his publicly acknowledged gambling addiction.

“Some people see Mizuhara’s use of the term gambling addiction as an excuse to mitigate his responsibility, but from his behavior, it’s clear that he is indeed suffering from full-blown addiction. Even when facing losses, he resorts to any means necessary to come up with money to make up for it.

Even if the target of his actions is Shohei Ohtani, who is more than just a business partner, he doesn’t stop to consider the risks of being caught. He doesn’t hesitate about the amounts involved. As long as there’s money in front of him, there’s no choice but to ‘GO,'” says a healthcare professional.

Daiki Shimoda, a Tokyo Musashino City councilor and son of author Keiki Shimoda, who once struggled with gambling addiction, shared on his X account,

“I lied to my father and borrowed 5 million yen to gamble, lied to my mother and sold my car to gamble, and even resorted to selling valuable items from my family’s home, ultimately ending up in personal bankruptcy!”

And revealed,

“I think Kazuhira Mizuhara also created it with the desperate power to make money no matter what” 

And resonated with the feeling.

Regarding the method of transferring funds, entrepreneur Hiroyuki Nishimura claimed, 

“It’s impossible without stealing a smartphone or a physical device.” 

Although this post seemed to suggest that the transfer couldn’t happen without Shohei Ohtani’s involvement, at that point, Shimoda had appealed, 

“Hiroyuki seems to think that without Shohei Ohtani’s knowledge, the transfer couldn’t happen, but I want him to understand the horrors of gambling addiction.”

A sports newspaper MLB reporter commented on Mizuhara’s future,

“The scale of damage has skyrocketed beyond the initial estimates. Investigative authorities want to crackdown on Matthew Bowyer, to whom Mizuhara sent the money, and further, the illegal sports betting organization behind him.

Even if Mizuhara agrees to a plea deal, it’s said he’ll get about 6-10 years in prison. If there’s no plea deal, it could be a real sentence of about 20 years.”

Despite being affectionately called “Ichipei-san” by fans, Mizuhara’s life has taken a sudden turn for the worse.


  • PHOTO Kojiro Yamada

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