Thai govt explores legalisation of casino entertainment complexes

Picture courtesy of the Immigration Bureau

The Thai Cabinet yesterday endorsed a House committee report, greenlighting the prospect of legalising entertainment complexes featuring casinos within the country. The Ministry of Finance received orders to conduct a further feasibility study concerning this potential investment within a 30-day timeframe.

Kenika Ounjit, the deputy government spokeswoman, highlighted that the entertainment complex initiative constitutes a vital component in the government’s advancement of the fun economy sector. This sector comprises tourism, sports, entertainment venues, and meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) businesses, which have demonstrated consistent growth and positively impacted Thailand’s economy.

The House committee’s study report, mentioned by Kenika, suggested that the proposed entertainment complex initiative could aid in generating increased tax revenue. This, in turn, would facilitate the government’s ability to provide aid to a broader demographic.

However, Kenika emphasised the necessity for public participation and hearings to determine whether to proceed with the proposed casino initiative. The Cabinet also advised that the government should not be the sole investor in such a project to avoid new budgetary burdens. Instead, a joint investment approach with multiple private partners, granting them a concessionaire, would be more appropriate.

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The Cabinet also recommended that any potential entertainment complex should be conveniently located near an international airport to accommodate international visitors. Furthermore, they suggested the implementation of a unique casino tax on the casino business.

The establishment of a specific government organisation was another proposal put forth by the Cabinet. This organisation would handle the potential negative impacts of the proposed entertainment complex. Additionally, a distinct law should be enacted to directly regulate this emerging business, Kenika added.

However, the proposed legalisation of casinos encountered significant opposition from a group of university academics, mainly from Chulalongkorn University. The academics issued a statement expressing their concerns that legalising casinos in Thailand could lead to more harm than good, reported Bangkok Post.

They disputed the House committee’s assertion that legalising casinos aligns with the government’s economic stimulus efforts. The academics argued that gambling has never been acknowledged as a business activity by economists due to its lack of economic product creation.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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