Confusion over new entertainment licenses
PHUKET: About 30% of the entertainment venues on Phuket have not applied for any of the new entertainment service licenses, Wisut Romin, Deputy Secretary of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Office, has told the Gazette. Owners of entertainment venues had until March 12 to apply, after which their existing licenses automatically became void. Those who did apply are allowed to continue trading as before until their applications for new licenses are either approved or denied. Entertainment venues fall into six main categories: 3 (1): “Dancing places”. This covers discotheques and ram wong (traditional Thai dancing) venues. 3 (2): Tea shops. These no longer exist on Phuket. 3 (3): Massage parlors. 3 (4): Entertainment venues – places selling food (maybe) and alcohol and offering some form of entertainment. 3 (5): Restaurants that provide entertainment and close after midnight (primarily upmarket venues with cultural shows). 3 (6): Others as yet unimagined or not falling into the above categories. In category 3 (4), there are four sub-categories. These are: 3 (4) a: A place providing a show or other activities for entertaining customers, and allowing staff to socialize with patrons; 3 (4) b: A place that provides equipment for patrons to sing, and allows staff to socialize with the patrons. 3 (4) c: A place that has no dance floor but allows customers to dance on the premises. 3 (4) d: Other places that have light or sound facilities, depending on Ministry rulings yet to be made. Depending on the activities available in a venue in category 3 (4), it may require two or more of the above licenses. K. Wisut said that many businesses had not applied because of confusion over which of the new licenses to apply for, and worries over how much they would have to pay. This is because the Ministry of Interior has yet to set the fees. It has until May 12 to do so, K. Wisut explained. “It is expected to set the fee [for each license] at up to 50,000 baht a year. Business owners will have to pay the fees on receipt of each license,” K. Wisut explained. Licenses to serve food and non-alcoholic beverages, alcohol and cigarettes are also required in addition to the new entertainment licenses. Amusements such as pool tables, dart boards and video games, too, require licenses. Before the recent amendments to the Entertainment Act came into effect, K. Wisut said, there were about 270 businesses on Phuket holding entertainment licenses of one sort or another. The new licenses will be issued by May 12 and will run until December 31. “The aim of the new regulations is to make it more difficult for people in the entertainment business,” K. Wisut explained. As far as that aim is concerned, the government appears to be right on track.
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