In early January of this year, a report was submitted and presented to the House of Representatives of Thailand. It contained surveys and various other research proposing casino-entertainment resorts to be built in Thailand.
As reported by thaicasinocenter.org, a special house committee and Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University ran a public opinion survey at the end of 2022, asking whether Thai people would approve of entertainment resorts being built in certain areas which will have casinos. In that particular survey, 80.7% of people approved the projects, and 36.4% answered that casinos must be a part of those resorts.
An Important Decision
At a three-hour meeting, the House of Representatives of Thailand discussed the proposals presented to them. While the idea of entertainment resorts was not an issue, the inclusion of casinos was the major point that had to be decided upon. Of the 319 representatives present, 310 voted in favor of having casinos as part of the entertainment complexes. It was seen as beneficial due to the economic value that the projects would bring.
The proposal was approved, but this does not mean that casino gambling will become legal overnight. The full report, as well as any extra comments made during the meeting, will be sent to the government for further evaluation. Pakornwut Udompipatsakul, a member of the House committee who was present for this event, said that this is a huge step for the country. However, full authorization and planning may still be two to three years away.
The Official Report
The official report proposed that if the proposal were approved, a new committee would be established to monitor and manage the issue, with the Prime Minister of Thailand having a leading role. In terms of funding, it was proposed that investments come from both public and private sources. With regard to location, the report highlighted Bangkok, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), and places within a 100-kilometer radius of Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports as the first priority. As an alternative, the report then pointed to tourism provinces as the second choice, with a few smaller provinces as the third.
The legality of casinos and online gambling in the country is the main obstacle this proposal faces. To move forward with the project, the 1935 Gambling Act must be amended to allow for casino and online gambling in the areas where the projects are to be built. If the government approves the project, the Ministry of Interior will be responsible for creating and introducing the relevant bill.
In the report, there were also suggestions that the entertainment complex would have a five-star hotel, amusement parks, indoor and outdoor sports stadiums, shopping malls, a zoo, and beauty parlors. In fact, no more than 5% of the resort would be occupied by casinos.
When casinos eventually open, they will welcome locals and foreigners older than 21 years. Additionally, for people to be allowed, they would need to present evidence that they have had at least THB 500,000 or $15,000 in their bank account in the previous six months. The official report also stated that anything won from the casinos would be taxed.
Opposing Views & Future Steps
The proposal for the meeting and approval was received with some opposition, mainly from Thanakorn Komkrit, secretary-general of the Stop Gambling Foundation. He expressed worry that the committee had not developed a strategy to combat illegal gambling or addressed the possibility of criminal groups using casinos and online gaming to launder money. These problems will undoubtedly be thoroughly investigated and debated before the idea is given to the government. The proposal will be discussed further in the next few years.
Before the Thai government can move forward with the ambitious project of constructing casino-entertainment resorts in Thailand, a thorough assessment and discussion of potential issues must be conducted. To stay informed, be sure to follow the latest updates at thaicasinocenter.org, which provides reliable coverage of the official report and public opinion. Ultimately, only time will tell whether Thailand will join its neighbors as a prime gambling destination in Asia.