Thai PM says legal casinos will prevent illegal gambling

Thai Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, has come out in support of legalising casinos in the country, stating that the move would allow the government to properly control gambling and allow them to “collect taxes properly”.

Under current law, gambling in the country is prohibited, except on state lotteries and government-backed horse races. Although online gambling is not explicitly covered by law, it is considered to fall under the general gambling guidelines. As such, there are no legal casinos or other legal gambling venues, so many players in Thailand turn to offshore betting sites, like those listed here for Thai players. Nick Pappas explains that although online gambling is prohibited in Thailand, players can use international offshore betting sites to place their wagers and play games without issue.

Thailand has strict gambling laws, which date back to the Gambling Act 1935. Under the current laws, it is illegal for any property to hold more than 120 playing cards and illegal in-person gambling dens are regularly raided. PM Srettha and many within the government hope that legalising casinos will not only help reduce illegal gambling establishments but will enable them to tax organisations that offer gambling, potentially raising substantial public funds.

Thai PM says legal casinos will prevent illegal gambling | News by Thaiger
Picture of a croupier at an illegal casino in Nonthaburi province, courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Government House has previously held talks regarding the legalization of gambling, pointing to the possibility of boosting tourism while also helping to curb illegal gambling activities. The idea of limiting casinos to foreign visitors has been mooted, along with a system similar to the one in China. Macau is the only area in China where gambling is legal: a situation that has been in place since Macau was a Portuguese colony in the 19th Century.

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A recent study by the Thai Government House Committee on casino legalisation was completed at the beginning of March. It proposes the introduction of entertainment complexes, which would incorporate casinos, but they would only make up a small part of the facilities.

The report went on to say that while the government would decide on the locations of these complexes, issue licenses, and be responsible for the collection of taxes, it would be down to the operators to raise the necessary funding. Complexes would not be allowed to be built next to Phuket. There has been no limit suggested on the number of complexes that would be licensed but the report suggests that they should be within 100 kilometres of an airport and within a main tourist area.

It has been suggested that establishing new casinos would bring up to 50,000 new jobs, assuming that one complex would be built in each of the country’s five regions, with each employing 10,000 people.

PM Srettha has cautioned that any new laws allowing the legal introduction of casinos would take time to pass and formalise and that the government would continue to crack down on illegal gambling dens in the country in the meantime.

Although no decision has been finalised yet, the proposals seem to be gathering a lot of support from business owners, and having the backing of the PM, who is also the country’s finance minister, makes the move seem a real possibility.

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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