Thai lawmakers endorse study on legalising casinos
Thailand’s lower House endorsed a feasibility study on legalising casinos on Thursday, as the country seeks tax and tourism revenue to boost economic recovery from Covid-19.
The study report was produced by a special House committee and will now be sent to Cabinet for consideration.
Lawmakers debated the report – which covers revenue/tax collection and measures to combat illegal gambling dens – for about two hours on Thursday.
Several MPs asked the committee to beef up the report with measures to combat illegal online gambling and money laundering.
The committee plans to ask the government to legalise casinos in five regions, aiming to increase state income from tax while suppressing illegal gambling dens.
The five locations targeted for legal casinos are:
- North: Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai
- East: Pattaya
- South: Phuket, Phang-nga or Krabi
- Northeast: Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani or Khon Kaen
- Greater Bangkok.
Legalisation will be trialled with five casinos nationwide, featuring both traditional and international gambling games as well as gambling via online channels, said the committee's vice president Phichet Cheumuangphan.
Entry to Thai casinos will reportedly be restricted to wealthy Thais and foreigners.
Underground gambling is endemic in Thailand, with billions of baht estimated to be flowing through illegal dens and websites every year.
Thai gamblers also flock to border casinos in neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Singapore, which act as a magnet for foreign tourists.