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PM Prayut Chan-o-cha calls bluff on claims that he benefits from illegal gambling

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PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is calling bluff on claims that he is benefiting from illegal gambling and is ordering a crackdown on gambling after a cluster of Covid-19 infections were said to be linked to a den in Rayong. The outbreak linked to unlawful activities became a headache for health officials who have been trying to track down elusive gamblers to contain the virus.

With many compulsive gamblers hopping from venue to venue as the coronavirus continues to spread, the PM ordered an investigation aimed at shutting down the illegal venues and catching those running the establishments. He says illegal gambling as well as illicit drug trade and trafficking have been an ongoing problem in Thailand.

Some shot back at Prayut, claiming that he received gains from the illegal establishments. In a podcast today, Prayut said he was “surprised” at the claims, insisting that he has never received any gains from illegal gambling dens and that he “despises” people who try to bribe officials.

Prayut says there are some “bad officials” who have been bribed to allow illegal activities like gambling. In an earlier report, Prayut said the investigation committee, made up of officials from Thailand’s Security Department, Department of Special Investigation, the Anti-Money Laundering Office and Narcotics Control Board, will track down “influential figures” involved in the illegal activities.

A number of police officers are already under investigation to determine if they were involved in illegal gambling operations.  In Bangkok, a police chief and 5 senior officers were transferred for alleged negligence of duty and are now being investigated. The officers were transferred following Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau’s raid on a Bangkok gambling den where nearly 100 alleged gamblers were arrested.

Chon Buri and Rayong police chiefs were also both transferred after reports of Covid-19 cases linked to gambling dens in the provinces.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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