Thailand Pushes for Legal Casinos

1 month ago
Thailand Casinos
02 Nov

Thailand's House of Representatives has formed a 60-member committee to explore the possibility of legalising brick-and-mortar casinos in the county.

This move aims to address the issue of underground gambling and provide a much-needed boost to the national economy. The committee, which includes members from a range of political parties, has been given three months to complete its task.

Will Thailand Build Legal Casinos?

The proposal to legalise casinos has been put forth by members of parliament from various parties, including Thoedchart Chaipong, a Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai; Non Paisanlimcharoenkij, a Move Forward Party MP for Nonthaburi; and Chatchawal Kong-udom, a United Thai Nation Party list-MP.

The aim is to establish at least five entertainment complexes with casinos strategically across the country — one each in the North, the South, the East, the West, and the Central area.

As well as intending to boost state coffers, the move is aiming to create local employment opportunities and reduce the need for Thais to travel abroad to earn money to support their families.

United Thai Nation Party list-MP Chatchawal Kong-udom emphasised the financial loss resulting from Thai citizens travelling to neighbouring countries for casino gambling. He revealed that he had initially proposed the legalisation of casinos 30 years ago, but faced opposition. Now, with the formation of the committee, the proposal is gaining momentum.

Thailand is surrounded by foreign casinos at its land borders with Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. The border crossings at these locations are busy every day with Thai nationals making the trip to gamble legally.

Current State of Gambling in Thailand

Despite the ban on land-based casinos, gambling is still very active within Thailand, with players keen to make the most of the underground live scene and online casinos operating without licences.

Illegal gambling carries penalties of up to 1-year in prison. Online casinos are not considered legal in Thailand, but a huge part of the population still engages in their use. Despite government efforts to track down these sites and block them, many remain active.

History of Gambling in Thailand

Gambling has long been a feature of Thai society, as it is in most Asian cultures. Locals partake in more than 100 well-known gambling games, many of which are native to Thailand.

Betting on cockfights, bullfights, and boat races is common, not to mention the clamour to wager on modern sports markets such as the English Premier League.

The first large-scale gambling houses were established in Ayutthaya by the government in the late 17th or early 18th century as a result of the steady immigration from China.

The Gambling Act 2478 (1935) banned land-based casinos in Thailand, with the Thai National Lottery and horse race betting being the only forms of legal gambling.

The formation of the committee by the House of Representatives marks a significant step towards potentially legalising casinos in Thailand.

If successful, this could lead to the downfall of casinos operating at the borders, thereby redirecting the money of Thai gamblers towards the government revenue for national development.

If that were to happen and the numbers look good for the Thai government, we could see the country opening up as a rival to Macau.

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Mark from London in the UK is a professional cash game player, and part time journalist. A massive chess fan and perpetual traveller.Read more


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