High Stakes: Police shut down Phuket cannabis store for 30 days due to gambling

Police ordered the closure of ‘Hi Kush’ cannabis store in Phuket, southern Thailand, for 30 days, from yesterday February 7 to March 8, after finding evidence of gambling at the establishment.

Officers from Phuket City Police Station arrested a man named Ratchakrit and 13 others for, “organising gambling (poker), gambling at a property without permission and conspiracy to gamble.”

The alleged illicit poker game happened inside the Hi Kush cannabis shop on Rassada Road, Talad Yai subdistrict, Mueang district, on January 19, 2023.

Mueang Phuket District Chief Phairot Srilamul ordered assistant chief Danai Jaikhaeng to close the Hi Kush shop under Phuket Provincial Order 1064/256 for 30 days, under orders of Phuket Governor Narong Wunsiew.

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Police say the behaviour of the 14 suspects “violated the Gambling Act of 1935, contrary to the peace and good morals of the public and the government’s social order policies.”

It is not yet clear whether any of the suspects will face a fine or any prison time if found guilty of the charges.

Cannabis might be legal in Thailand but most forms of gambling, aside from the government lottery and horse racing within a racecourse, are illegal.

The police’s latest big crackdown is on ‘macau888,’ a gambling website allegedly run by ‘four brothers.’ The website came under investigation when a famous actress made allegations on Facebook last month.

The Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for 13 suspects in relation to the macau888 network, three of whom including ‘Benz Daemon’ fled the country.

Police said they would seize Bens Daemon’s rare Lambhorgini valued at over 40 million baht, but then they couldn’t find it. Police believe Benz will return to Thailand and turn himself in tomorrow.

The Thai government has been discussing the possibility of a legal casino and entertainment complex since last year and established a committee to look into the feasibility of the idea.

At present, Thais who want to gamble have to legally cross over into Cambodia where it is illegal for Cambodians to gamble but not for foreigners.

Poipet is a ‘gambling town’ on the Khmer side of the border, popular with Thais and foreign tourists alike, just a three to four hours drive away from Bangkok.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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