Thailand is resuming cockfighting and other animal fights, with gambling allowed under strict conditions, the Ministry of Interior announced on Friday.
Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Suttipong Junjaroen officially announced that cockfighting, horse racing, Siamese fighting fish battles, bullfighting and cow racing may all resume now that the pandemic has subsided.
Betting will be permitted under strict conditions, so long as the venue obtains a permit and adheres to the rules and regulations set by the ministry.
The bloodsports will be promoted as a form of Thailand’s ‘soft power‘ to encourage foreign tourists to attend matches and place bets, which will benefit the economy, according to the Ministry of Justice.
For instance, cockfighting and Siamese fighting fish battles will only be allowed on weekends and must not be held on Buddhist days.
Furthermore, animal fights “must be conducted with the welfare of the animals in mind.” The frequency of animal fight betting will be limited depending on the province and underage participants will not be permitted.
Despite cockfighting being illegal in several countries e.g. the US, UK, Russia, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Germany, India, and many more, Thailand’s Ministry of Justice plans to promote animal fights as a tourism bolstering tool.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin expressed his opinion that these animal fights are a part of Thai traditions and have the potential to be considered ‘soft power.’
He encouraged relevant departments to share their ideas and opinions to make the fights and betting more systematic and internationalised, with the goal of drawing foreign tourists, not only Thai nationals, to the events.
Somsak said that fight organisers should use colours to differentiate each competitor, similar to Thai boxing. Additionally, competing animals should be provided with protective equipment to reduce the risk of injury.
Betting on animal fights should be systematic and placed through an online platform which collects tax, added Somsak. He said cockfighting gambling is a huge potential source of income for Thais, particularly agriculturists.
Cockfighting might ruffle the feathers of animal rights activists but is big business in Thailand, with champion cocks selling for hundreds of thousands of baht.
The sport has changed though, with metal spurs and fighting to the death outlawed in Thailand.
One cock owner said that modern fighting cocks are treated like professional boxers, with owners taking great care of them.
Another popular animal fight in Thailand is bullfighting, primarily found in the southern provinces. Unlike traditional bullfighting in Spain, Thai bullfighting does not involve killing the bull. Instead, the bulls fight each other without a matador, and the audience, along with the bulls’ caretakers, place bets on the outcome.
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