Thailand Committee Extends Review on Casino Proposal

A 60-member committee in Thailand, charged with exploring the establishment of the country’s first legal casinos, has requested an extension of four months to complete its review. Initially given 120 days, the committee finds itself needing more time due to disagreements on key issues, including regulations for local players and whether public or private entities should spearhead the developments. This request comes as the committee navigates through the complexities of introducing casino resorts, a significant shift for Thailand under the leadership of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his coalition government since August.

Karit Pannaim, a committee member and MP from the Move Forward Party, highlighted the challenges faced, including the debate on restrictions for Thai players and the management of potential casino resorts. The committee’s work differs from its predecessor’s efforts, which proposed the creation of integrated resorts featuring casinos and entertainment facilities across five locations, including Bangkok and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), areas like Pattaya and Rayong.

The previous proposal envisioned a mix of luxury hotels, shopping centers, spas, amusement parks, and sports facilities, limiting casino floor space to 5% of the total area. It also suggested entry requirements for locals, such as a financial threshold of THB500,000 ($15,000) in their bank accounts over the last six months, to ensure responsible gambling.

The concept of integrated resorts, integrating casinos within entertainment complexes, mirrors successful models in other Asian markets like Macau, Singapore, and the Philippines. This approach aims to mitigate public opposition by offering diverse recreational options beyond gambling. Dr. Nualnoi Treerat, Director of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University, affirmed the committee’s comprehensive view, emphasizing entertainment complexes’ appeal as seen in Singapore.

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