Thailand: 83 arrested in raid on illegal casino

Police seized several gambling tables, chips and cards, smartphones and Indian currency.
Police seized several gambling tables, chips and cards, smartphones and Indian currency.

Thai police have arrested 93 suspects, including 80 Indian tourists, in a raid on a luxury hotel in Pattaya.

Thailand.- Police in Thailand have arrested 93 people in a raid on an alleged illegal casino operating in a luxury hotel in the city of Pattaya. Those arrested include 80 Indian tourists, six Thais and four Myanmar nationals. 

The raid followed a tip-off from the public. Police say several gambling tables, chips, cards, CCTV cameras, smartphones were seized along with Indian currency. According to the Bangkok Post, a prominent Indian casino junket operator, his assistant and some politicians were also among those arrested.

According to reports, the Indian gamblers were charged 50,000 baht (US$1,460) each for lodging, food, flights, and transport. A Thai suspect has reportedly confessed to running the gambling business at the rented facility and claimed that the gambling equipment came from India. 

Thai police said they are investigating claims government officials knew about the casino’s existence but took bribes to turn a blind eye. A number of undocumented workers were reportedly employed by the business. Thanapong Phothi of the Pattaya police department said legal action would be taken against officials if they are found responsible.

In Thailand, gambling is illegal except for horse racing and the national lottery. A violation of the Gambling Act can result in up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 20,000 baht. 

Last year, a project surfaced to legalise casinos in Thailand. A House committee proposed opening casinos to Thais and foreigners, but Thais would have to be at least 21 years old and have at least 500,000 baht in their bank accounts within the past six months.

The House Committee suggested Bangkok, the Eastern Economic Corridor, 22 tourist provinces and border provinces with immigration checkpoints as potential sites for casinos.

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