THOSE WHO go gambling on the Thai-Cambodian border have been throwing their weight behind plans to legalise betting, saying many Thai gamblers are stuck in Cambodia because they have lost everything - including their passports.
National police chief General Somyot Pumpanmuang is among those who support the setting up of a casino on economic grounds, while opponents have been voicing strong disapproval.
Pol Lieutenant Benchapol Rodsawas, superintendent of the Sa Kaew Immigration Office, said dozens of Thai gamblers could not return because they had pawned their passports and lost the money gambling in casinos in Poipet.
He said these people lived in slums behind the casinos and survived on tips in exchange for running errands for other gamblers.
Benchapol said he could not confirm whether some stranded women also offered sexual services, just so they could hang around in the casino.
“We cannot really check this allegation,’’ he said.
Surachai or Hia Paeh, 46, who regularly goes to Poipet to gamble, said Thai gamblers spent up to Bt1 billion a day in Cambodian casinos, adding that this money could be spent at home and the tax revenue could be used to help the poor.
A 29-year-old man calling himself Nukul said more than 700 Thais worked in the nine casinos in Poi Pet, but they might lose their jobs if Thailand legalises casinos and the ones at the border shut down.
Also, he said, Cambodia might lobby against the proposal as it stands to lose out.