Posted on: August 26, 2022, 10:43h. 

Last updated on: August 26, 2022, 11:27h.

This past Tuesday, a man stole 300K baht (US$8,310) from a casino in Bangkok, Thailand. What was more outrageous than the theft, however, was the fact the casino was operating illegally and only blocks away from a police station.

Din Daeng Police Station
A photo of the Din Daeng Police Station in Bangkok, Thailand late last year. Police officers assigned to the station face possible corruption charges over an illegal casino operating blocks away. (Image: The Phuket News)

The perpetrator behind the heist, Mack Anusaoree, was a regular in the area, reports local media channel PPTV. He was apparently angry that he lost money at the casino earlier in the day, and returned with a gun to recover his losses.

Despite the operation being illegal, someone reported the theft to the police. It wasn’t until PPTV aired all of the facts, however, that the local police found themselves in an embarrassing situation.

Playing Dumb

The shop is just 650 meters (2,132 feet) from a police station. Therefore, the media outlet found it difficult to believe the police didn’t know it existed. However, that’s exactly what a number of officers claimed.

PPTV interviewed a number of locals who confirmed the illegal casino had been operating for a long time. They also believed that several officers knew about the activity.

Despite the casino’s proximity to the station, it took officers 15 hours to respond to the theft complaint. Aggravating the situation, Anusaoree, who the locals know as Mack Victory, is still on the run.

When a group of officers finally paid the shop a visit, they didn’t find anything except an empty room. Fifteen hours, it turns out, was more than enough time for the owners to sanitize the area and remove any evidence that could have proven the existence of an illegal gambling facility.

Before the scrubbing, the shop had surveillance cameras that recorded the illegal gaming and Mack Victory’s assault. Someone grabbed that footage and made sure it went public.

As a result of the ordeal, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) transferred five officers out of the police station to work in the area’s police headquarters. Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Committee is now investigating them and the rest of the department.

The assumption is that it would have been impossible for the illegal casino to exist and for the response to take 15 hours unless corrupt officers stood in the way. The MPB also wants to know who leaked the surveillance footage and why. It’s unlikely the casino operators did, since that would have incriminated them as well.

Thailand Undergoing a Transformation

Thailand is one of only three countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that prohibits legal casinos. The other two are Indonesia and Brunei. However, illegal gambling is readily available everywhere.

Some within the government hope to change that. There’s a push for legalized casinos, with an initiative now making its way through the legislative obstacle course. There have been mixed reactions to the idea and any progress that lawmakers may have been willing to make will now likely stop.

Last month, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha survived a no-confidence vote. It was the fifth in two years, and he emerged victorious on all occasions. However, recent developments have forced him to step aside.

Thailand’s Constitution Court ruled this past Wednesday that Prayut had to temporarily remove himself as the head of the country. This comes as the court is reviewing whether he violated constitutional rules that he implemented regarding term limits.

Prayut will continue to serve as Thailand’s defense minister during the review. In the meantime, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will become acting prime minister.