Thailand could consider legalizing casinos after next election

  • Tourist hotspot could benefit from change to casino law
  • Decision on casino status expected after elections

Currently in Thailand you cant own more than 120 playing cards without a permit, so a possible change to laws prohibiting casinos in the Southeast Asian country has come as a shock.

The country is set to go to the polls in 2018 for a General Election, with political and economic analysts reporting that the tourist hotspot could benefit from introducing casino resorts and that a newly elected government would have the right to introduce new laws, with a mandate from the people to make changes to benefit the local economy.

Following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej last October, the country faces a period of governmental change when it goes to the polls next year: Forbes speculates that without the unifying force of a national figurehead, more modern political interests could start to emerge in Thailand. This would certainly pave the way for legalizing land-based casinos, which advocates say would be beneficial for the Thai economy.

Gambling status in Thailand today

In legal terms, casinos are entirely prohibited throughout Thailand. Race betting and lottery games are permitted, but all other forms of cash gambling fall outside of the law. This has been the case since the Gambling Act of 1935 – which many argue is outdated and does not serve modern Thailand well. The same law also prohibits the ownership of more than 120 playing cards without a permit – bad news for magicians!

Gambling may be illegal, but there are plenty of venues in the cities which offer an illicit casino service. Underground gaming venues in bars and private homes allow players to indulge their favorite vice, sports betting rings offer illegal books or third-party offshore betting, and some Thai funerals even offer gambling to mourners as a modern custom.

Boosting tourism and economy

Tourism plays a huge role in the Thai economy, representing 17.7% of national GDP in 2016. In the first half of 2017, 14 million people visited the Asian nation. With record numbers of visitors every year, there is serious interest from some of the world’s top casino operators who feel their resorts would attract a strong interest if they were brought to Thailand.

Casino tourism already exists within Singapore, Cambodia and Macau – Thai residents and visitors have demonstrated a clear demand for casino services. If the upcoming election returns a forward-thinking government, Thailand could become the next key target for gaming brands who want a slice of the Asian casino market.

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