Thailand Moves Forward with Casino Legislation, Backed by Prime Minister

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has thrown his weight behind the idea of establishing entertainment complexes that include casinos. Speaking on March 28, the 62-year-old prime minister shared his view, “legalising casinos could potentially extinguish illegal gambling dens and divert gamblers’ money towards the state.” This approach, he believes, will not only tackle the issue of illegal gambling but also enhance state revenue through regulated operations.

This announcement came as the House of Representatives showed strong support for a report from a House committee dedicated to evaluating the feasibility of such complexes. The prime minister addressed concerns regarding the social impacts of introducing casinos, ensuring that “these complexes would be lawfully regulated with security agencies and local officials overseeing them.”

Reflecting this commitment to regulation and oversight, the House’s response was overwhelmingly positive. With 253 out of 257 lawmakers in attendance voting in favor, the initiative received a massive endorsement. This vote underscores the legislative body’s interest in exploring how casinos within large entertainment complexes could benefit Thailand.

Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat, who also chairs the committee behind the study, noted the economic advantages of such complexes, stating, “Such complexes would create jobs, boost tourism, and curb illegal gambling.” However, Julapun also acknowledged the potential for negative impacts, a balance the committee’s study aimed to address.

The proposed complexes aim to be more than just casinos. As Julapun outlined, they “would not only house casinos but also feature hotels, shopping malls, and amusement parks,” necessitating a substantial investment of at least 100 billion baht. This vision expands the scope of the project to encompass various forms of entertainment, positioning the complexes as major tourism and employment drivers.

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As the study heads to the cabinet for further consideration, the dialogue around it suggests a careful, measured approach to integrating casinos into Thailand’s entertainment industry. Chakkrapol Tangsutthitham, the deputy chairman of the House committee, anticipates that the legislation enabling these complexes could be realized by year’s end. It is expected to take another 3 to 4 years before the first casinos would be operational by 2028/2029.

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