Thai panel proposes legalisation of casino resorts

The committee has submitted the results of its study.
The committee has submitted the results of its study.

The committee has proposed the government issue a decree allowing the construction of integrated resorts with legal casinos in key cities.

Thailand.- The Thai government committed tasked with studying the possibility of allowing integrated resorts with casinos has submitted its final report to the National Assembly. The legislators have recommended that the government issue a decree allowing such developments in key cities.

The committee said that legalising casinos could allow Thailand to make billions from foreign investors, visitors and Thai gamblers who would otherwise spend their money in neighbouring countries. This latter point is one of the most surprising: the legislators are proposing that Thais would be allowed to play in casinos, as opposed to the regimes in Vietnam and South Korea that severely restrict locals’ access.

The proposal stipulates that Thai nationals over the age of 20 with a bank account containing at least 500,000 baht should be allowed to gamble.

Pichet Chuamuangphan, a lawmaker from the Pheu Thai Party and vice chairman of the panel, said Greater Bangkok would be an ideal location for the first casino, followed by a coastal southern destination such as Phuket, Krabi or Phang Nga.

He predicted at least THB400bn (US$11bn) in additional annual tax revenue once several venues are operating.

The group’s recommendations are based on Thailand’s Gambling Act of 1935, which prohibits most types of wagering but includes a provision that gives the government the power to issue decrees or licenses for certain gambling activities.

Thai lawmakers will consider whether to implement the recommendations, which could be finalised before parliament adjourns in September.

Earlier this month, a poll found that 80 per cent of respondents (3,296 people) were in favour of allowing the development of integrated resorts and casinos. The survey showed that one of the most preferred places for the development of an integrated resort is Bangkok, followed by the capital’s Don Mueang Airport and border areas.

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