The parliament of Thailand will be launching a study to possibly introduce casino gaming as MPs supported the idea unanimously last week, bar a few dissident voices. At the moment, it remains unclear as to how many casino resorts would be legalized, nor where are they going to be located should the legalization move proceed according to preliminary plans.
House of Representatives Voted on Setting an Extraordinary Committee
As the Bangkok Post reveals, a special committee is set to be formed with backing from the House of Representatives, which voted on it. The committee will examine the proposal of opening a resort with a casino with one goal in mind – boosting tourism and, thus, supporting the local economy.
This “extraordinary committee” will have 60 members, 15 of which will be representatives from the cabinet of Thailand, and the other 45 will be selected from the political parties in the kingdom. As the report states, the study by the group would be completed in 90 days.
Thailand has had numerous debates on whether casino gaming should be legalized or not. Up until recently, the topic was a non-starter as it was opposed by the kingdom’s former ruler, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Even though he passed away in 2016, it took until 2020 for more voices in support of the gaming industry to be heard.
After several arrests were made for frauds related to gambling and the fact that COVID-19 disrupted Thailand’s economy, Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand, stated in January that the idea would be considered as a solution to clandestine gambling operations.
When Prayut and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, the leader of PPRP and deputy minister, was asked about the issue last week, they were non-committal. The PM said that this issue is a people’s matter.
Thailand is An Untapped Gold Mine for Gambling
Since it has 70 million residents, Thailand is the 20th most populous country in the world. However, it is one of three ASEAN nations where gambling remains illegal. The other two are Brunei and Indonesia. Research even showed that as much as half of the kingdom’s population participates in illegal gambling activities.
If they do not participate in illegal gambling activities, Thai residents just travel to neighboring countries. Prawit commented on the situation by stating that the people visit casinos in all countries surrounding Thailand.
Since many consider this country to have a massive potential insofar as gambling is concerned, it has attracted the focus of high-end players of the global gambling industry. One of those players is Las Vegas Sands.
The company showed interest by saying that it is open to developing a resort in a major Thai city in 2019. The main target was Bangkok, and that may still be happening, considering the fact that LVS sold its Las Vegas assets and is increasingly turning its appetite and development aspirations towards Asia.