Thailand introduced gambling laws in the country more than 80 years ago, but it is only now that the nation insists on beginning the process of legalization of casinos. According to analysts in the field, this is being done with the aim to amp up the tourism and introduce Thailand to the international and regional casino world.
Gambling in the country is officially prohibited and the only options the people have are the state-run lottery and the Bangkok Turf Club, which offers betting on horses. This inevitably has left to the thriving of numerous underground casinos and illegal betting, which make a decent revenue from all gambling enthusiasts on the pursuit of profit.
Visanu Vongsinsirikul, gaming industry expert and a lecturer in economics at Dhurakij Pandit University, said that the state can come to a conclusion on the legalization of casino gambling after a serious consideration and possibly after the next general elections, which are expected to take place in late 2018. According to him, the possibility of building a legal casino in Thailand is very big and the issue will be raised when the government has the rights of the electorate after the election. Then it will be more likely that the officials reach a decision about the issue.
In the past, many governments have set out plans to legalize casinos in Thailand but to no avail. Back in 2006 former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra came up with a plan to make a casino in Pattaya lawful, but his promising initiative was halted by the military, which ousted him in a coup the same year. Later in 2014, the proposals have seen more attention and everyone’s hopes were raised again in 2016 when senior government and police officials backed the idea.
The current Prime Minister Prayut Cahn-o-cha has also expressed his support of the plans and his desire to make them true. According to the plans which are being currently made, at least one major casino resort will be placed in the greater Bangkok area, as well as a second one, located in the resort destination of Phuket Island in southern Thailand. They are expected to help the economy with a considerable revenue and attract the customers of the illegal underground casinos which are currently functioning.
According to a research done by Rangsit University, at least 10 underground casinos had been working in the greater Bangkok area before the military takeover which took place in 2014. They had made an annual gross income between $5 billion and $5.6 billion per year. Once the gambling industry in Thailand is legalized the tax revenues alone could reach $2.78 billion.