Posted on: June 30, 2022, 11:27h. 

Last updated on: June 30, 2022, 12:04h.

Every day, it seems that Thailand’s project to bring legal casinos to the country is moving forward. The latest step sees the arrival of a plan that would allow several casinos, although the tax rate may not appeal to some operators.

Kata and Karon beaches in Phuket, Thailand
A view of Kata and Karon beaches in Phuket, Thailand. The town is one of several the government may target for a new casino if it approves gambling legalization. (Image: TripSavvy)

A House panel plans to propose to Thailand the establishment of five legal casinos. The panel believes the initiative will reduce the number of illegal gambling properties in the country.

However, operators would need to be prepared to give up 30% of their revenue in taxes. That could turn off some potential candidates. But there will still be plenty of interest from others, especially if the government approves online gambling.

Casino Project Grows

Pichet Chuamuangphan is the second vice-chairman of the House committee studying the legalization of casinos. Following a meeting of its members yesterday, he told local media that they had submitted their findings and suggestions to the government.

As the committee outlines the project, one casino would be authorized in the northern, northeast, central, Greater Bangkok, and southern regions. The government announced earlier this month that it had already chosen one spot in the Tak Province. In addition, the properties would be able to offer  online and traditional gambling.

Pichet explained that the government would make concessions to the private sector for legal casinos. The government would collect 30% tax from them, which includes a local maintenance tax that can be used for the upkeep of the properties.

To enter the legal venues, gamblers must be at least 20 years old. In addition, they will have to present proof of their financial situation. In a rare exception for a country in Southeast Asia, government officials cannot enter any of the properties unless they have a permit.

Pichet added that the committee has studied the gambling laws and business models in different countries, including Singapore and Malaysia. They like what they see so far, and will incorporate many of the policies and procedures they encountered into Thailand’s casinos. However, feasibility studies are still ongoing.

The House committee also examined Section 4 of the Gambling Act, which prohibits gambling without a royal decree. It will recommend that the government amend laws and regulations to allow legal casinos to open.

An Invitation to Tourists

Pichet said that the establishment of legal casinos is also intended to attract tourists to Thailand. The committee will continue working on the project, and in a month, present its latest findings to the government. Then it will make recommendations to the House of Representatives by November.

Thailand has to contend with a large underground gambling sector because it doesn’t have any legal alternatives. Political opposition parties have routinely brought this up in parliamentary discussions. They use it as a mechanism to undermine the government and sway public opinion.

However, they also provide a legitimate argument, asserting that legal casinos will potentially attract millions of dollars in annual revenue. They will create short- and long-term jobs, attract tourism, and boost local economies. If they’re able to reduce the presence of illegal gambling options, law enforcement resources would then be free to focus on other criminal activity.

Should the government approve the initiative, Thailand already has support from at least one well-established operator. Previous industry chatter indicates that Las Vegas Sands may have its eye on the country, and would be a great asset for Thailand to have in its corner.