University “taking a gamble’ with casino course

PHUKET CITY: A Phuket university has reignited the debate over casinos in Phuket by offering a course in casino and gaming management.

The Phuket campus of Prince of Songkhla University (PSU) has started to offer the 45-hour courses to masters degree and doctorate students, even though casinos are illegal in Thailand. The course has received approval from the Ministry of Education.

But when the Gazette contacted Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (OrBorJor) President Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr to ask for her thoughts on the course, she stated, “Phuket should be concentrating on taking care of its natural resources, to make it a world-class destination offering a range of activities for tourists, not on casinos.

“The only people who would make money from a casino on Phuket are the owners of the casino. And as tourists who came for the casino would probably just stay inside the casino, they wouldn’t be supporting other local concerns such as tuk tuk drivers, restaurants or fishermen.”

She continued, “Our society is decaying enough as it is, without illegal things that will destroy the morals of our youth being made legal.

“People should be looking for something that will improve society, not at casinos.”

The university offered its first Casino and Gaming Management elective between March 31 and April 30. Students were given lectures by professors from countries where gambling is already legal, and went on field trips to casinos at the Andaman Club hotel in Burma, just off the coast of Ranong, and Malaysia’s Genting Highlands.

The course is open to doctorate students and those in the university’s MBA International Program in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

The Director of the MBA course program, Associate Professor Manat Chaisawat, told the Gazette that the elective had been introduced because casino and gaming management are as much a part of the hospitality industry as food service, accommodation, travel services and convention and meeting services.

Prof Manat said, “The casino and gaming industry is growing fast in Asia, in neighboring countries in particular.

“Masters students need to learn about this business as many of them will go on to teach in universities, not just in Thailand but in neighboring countries as well, so it is important they have a deeper understanding of the subject.”

Lecturers from the University of Houston, Texas, and Chulalongkorn University have been invited to teach classes, along with gaming consultants.

The 45-hour course costs 18,000 baht for masters degree students and 45,000 baht for doctorate students.

One masters student, who asked not to be named, commented that the Casino and Gaming Management class was about something that is part of the hospitality industry.

“We learned how to manage such a business, and we learned the positive and negative effects of this business,” said the student. “I think it would be a good idea to have a casino industry in Thailand; it would bring a lot of benefits to the government.”

Pattanapong Ekvanich, President of the Phuket Tourism Association, said it made sense for PSU to run the course because, he believes, gambling and casinos will be allowed in Thailand in the future.

However, said K. Pattanapong, “I don’t think we should have casinos in Phuket, because this is a place of natural attractions.”

But prominent businessman Phummisak Hongsyok believes there will be little support for the course.

“The government may have given the green light for this institute to teach this course, but I don’t think it has much support locally,” he said.

“I have heard that there are plans to open a casino in Phuket, but I don’t think it would bring much money into the country, as other places, such as Macau, Las Vegas and Singapore already have established industries that attract gamblers.

“The only people who would profit from this are the people who would build it, plus I don’t think we could control who would come here to use the casino. Would it be good for the government to make casinos legal? I don’t know.”

Phuket News

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