A current picture reveals Kings Romans Gambling establishment by the Mekong River on the Thai-Lao border.

Whether you support it or not, wagering and betting dens have actually been prevalent in much of Thailand for a very long time, in spite of authorities’ efforts to mark it out.

Thai individuals enjoy playing cards and banking on sports, especially football and cockfighting, although gaming is presently prohibited here.

Gambling establishments in the border town of Poipet, Cambodia, are frequently staffed by Thai nationals and are constantly filled with Thai customers.

The Thai federal government has actually been dabbling the concept of making betting legal in the nation for the previous twenty years. The strategy, nevertheless, has actually been warded off time and time once again by the arguments that gaming is not lined up with the concepts of Buddhism, which doing so will cause more illegal behaviour.

While Thailand’s neighbours– Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore– have actually legalised gaming and established gambling establishment complexes to accommodate travelers and increase their economies, Thailand has actually stuck to its Betting Act (1935 ), which prohibits any types of money wagering, other than for the state lotto and horse races at state-licensed racecourses.

Propositions to legalise gambling establishments were talked about in parliament in late June, in a quote to revitalise the pandemic-hit economy after the federal government effectively decriminalised marijuana that very same month. The legalisation of gambling establishments would look for to increase earnings, gather taxes from the complexes, and punish prohibited places, fruit machine and online gaming.

According to your house committee studying the expediency of opening such home entertainment complexes, Thailand might accommodate 5 gambling establishments– one in each of its 5 areas.

In the North, the gambling establishment area might be Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai. In the main area, the targeted website is Pattaya.

In the South, Phuket, Phangnga or Krabi were viewed as perfect areas. In the Northeast, the options are Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani or Khon Kaen. The prime area is either Bangkok or among its nearby provinces.

Your home committee stated that the proposition, if backed, might assist Thailand create billions of dollars from foreign financiers, tourists and Thai bettors. The committee thinks that this target audience would otherwise invest their video gaming cash in neighbouring nations, while Thai legalisation would likewise assist suppress prohibited gaming and other criminal activities.

A gambling establishment in Cambodia’s Poipet, nearby to Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.


However Aat Pisanwanich, director of the Center for International Trade Research Studies at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, sees gambling establishment liberalisation in Thailand as not likely to be worth the financial investment, with the relocation thought about to be far too late.

” Thailand made reasonably sluggish motion on this problem,” stated Mr Aat. “Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore have for a very long time purchased gambling establishments, while Chinese financiers have actually currently made their existence felt in our neighbouring nations.”

Mr Aat likewise questioned whether Thailand has actually commissioned a Swot (strengths, weak points, chances and risks) analysis on the problem, due to the fact that as a beginner Thailand is not likely to gain the complete advantages of gambling establishments.

According to Mr Aat, the objective of promoting tourist and bring in traveler earnings is not likely to be accomplished, as travelers from Europe and the United States generally go to Thailand for leisure functions, not for gaming.

” Chinese capital has for a very long time been invested in fully-fledged gambling establishments in our neighbouring nations, be it in Laos, in the Golden Triangle, or Cambodia’s Koh Kong and Sihanoukville. It includes networks which are prepared to draw in Chinese to their gambling establishments, while Marina Bay Sands and The Genting Group are the gambling establishment financiers in Singapore and Malaysia, respectively,” stated Mr Aat.

” Who is going to purchase Thailand if we legalise gambling establishments now? If Thai financiers want to invest, the next concern is whether Thai financiers can take on Chinese financiers who are completely geared up with not only capital however likewise networking.”

According to Mr Aat, Chinese travelers go to Thailand due to the fact that they enjoy Thainess, not betting.

He stated Thailand needs to focus rather on establishing and enhancing tourist and tourist locations to accommodate individuals who take a trip to dip into gambling establishments in neighbouring nations.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce decreased to talk about the problem of gambling establishment legalisation.

Tourists take a look at a menu at a dining establishment near the New Mei Gao Mei (New MGM) gambling establishment in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. (Image: Bloomberg)


Phisut Sae-Khu, president of the Thai Hotels Association’s eastern chapter, stated that if the federal government wished to legalise gambling establishments, it needs to thoroughly study the advantages and drawbacks of the policy and craft well-planned policies and laws to prevent any unfavorable effect from the start.

He stated that as Pattaya has actually been called as one of the prospective locations for legal gambling establishments, tourist operators thought this sort of service might increase their earnings.

Yet even without gambling establishments, Pattaya currently has a lot of other tourist items to provide as it has actually been an international location for several years. Pattaya tourist would not be impacted if gambling establishment legalisation did not take place.

” We have no objection if the federal government states it is essential to increase the economy, however prior to presenting this policy the regional neighborhood must be ensured that business are under control and would not trigger any social issues, as seen with marijuana legalisation,” stated Mr Phisut.


The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) recommended that the federal government deal with the years-long debate of gambling establishment legalisation by performing a test prior to deciding.

While seeing the capacity of gambling establishments to draw more travelers and create financial advantages, Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the FTI, stated he is likewise knowledgeable about concerns over possible unfavorable effects.

Challengers to legal gambling establishments consist of previous deputy prime minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, who stated that letting gambling establishments open might cause social issues, consisting of increasing individual financial obligation and a greater criminal offense rate, according to media reports describing his remarks in 2015.

While Thailand disputed the problem for many years, neighbouring nations went on with legalisation and profited from gambling establishments.

” Even Malaysia, where many people are Muslim, permits gambling establishments to run,” stated Mr Kriengkrai.

” Religious beliefs and gambling establishments are individually thought about in other nations. Gambling establishments are deemed a company.”

Nevertheless, he stated it will be an excellent start if the federal government at first opened a gambling establishment under a sandbox plan in a traveler location like Pattaya, Phuket, or Samui.

Rather of pressing ahead with huge tasks like home entertainment complexes as part of gambling establishments, a sandbox would let the federal government see what the effect would be.

Public hearings need to be likewise held to evaluate individuals’s viewpoints, stated Mr Kriengkrai.

He would support gambling establishment legalisation as a method of controling gaming, lowering corruption, and producing a brand-new source of tax earnings.

” This is a method to increase state earnings, however the federal government requires to impose rigorous laws to avoid minor individuals from getting in gambling establishments,” stated Mr Kriengkrai.

He stated if the suitable laws remained in location, gambling establishments would assist create earnings to promote the Thai economy.

This would be much better than seeing Thai individuals invest cash at abroad gambling establishments, stated Mr Kriengkrai.

A gambling establishment in Cambodia’s Poi Animal, opposite Thailand’s Sa Kaeo. (Image: Patipat Janthong)


Sangsit Piriyarangsan, chairman of the Senate committee charged with dealing with hardship and inequality, stated that if the federal government chooses to legalise gambling establishments, it needs to guarantee that they are worked on a transparent basis, and by experts, in order to avoid the places from being utilized for cash laundering.

He thinks that Thai society is now fully grown sufficient to accept the gambling establishment service, however it needs to develop clear policies to avoid social effects.

Gambling establishments must waive entryway charges for foreign consumers, however charge Thais, Mr Sangsit stated.

Places would likewise need to inspect the monetary status of Thai consumers prior to letting them in, to avoid those in a financially precarious state from gaming, he included.

He included that in numerous nations, legal gambling establishments become part of vacation resorts simply to encourage foreign visitors to remain longer.

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