Thailand promotes legalization of casinos to compete with Macau

Thailand is moving forward with the legalization of casinos, and the deputy finance minister said on Friday that the casino legalization bill is expected to be passed during the current government's term. Prime Minister Saeta also expressed support for the casino plan on Thursday, as the government hopes to attract high-spending tourists and curb rampant illegal gambling. The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to support a parliamentary committee study that recommends the establishment of legal casinos in large entertainment complexes, a first step towards legalizing casinos in Thailand. Gambling industry insiders believe that the establishment of legal casinos in Thailand can compete strongly with Macau, the world's largest gambling center.

Gambling is currently illegal in Thailand, and the only gambling allowed is horse racing and lotteries, which are regulated by the government. However, illegal gambling, football betting, underground casinos and lotteries abound in the country. Many people in the gaming industry believe that Thailand is already a destination for foreign tourists, and the establishment of legal casinos will successfully attract more tourists and compete strongly with Macau. Thailand aims to receive a record 40 million foreign tourists this year. US media reported that Galaxy Entertainment and MGM Resorts International are also studying the possibility of opening a casino resort in Thailand.

Hope to increase considerable tourism revenue.

At a meeting of the 500-seat House of Representatives on Thursday, 253 of the 257 members present voted in favor of a study by a congressional committee. The study estimates that if casinos are set up in large entertainment centers, the average expenditure per passenger per trip is expected to surge by 52% to 65,050 baht (approximately HK$14,000), and annual tourism revenue can increase by 448 billion baht. Deputy Finance Minister Chulaporn said the study on legal casinos will be forwarded to the cabinet, which will decide whether it is suitable for Thailand. He also said that Singapore is a model worth following.

Chulaphorn said that the bill to legalize casinos in Thailand is expected to be passed during the term of the current government (current Prime Minister Saitha Thakur took office in August last year for a four-year term).

Prime Minister Saeta earlier on Thursday also backed a plan to legalize casinos in what he called the "grey economy" to increase oversight and stem the loss of tax revenue. He posted on the social platform A lot of time and opportunities have been lost. The government will take back the lost time and turn it into economic opportunities for the country and its citizens." The issue of casino legalization has aroused heated discussions recently. In addition to the casino, the entertainment complex also includes a concert hall, as well as venues such as Muay Thai, cockfighting, and horse racing, where bets can be placed.

The study report did not specify how many such complexes would be built, but suggested that these complexes should be located within 100 kilometers of the airport. The first integrated entertainment complex could be built near the Eastern Economic Corridor. If successful, it could be promoted domestically. other areas.

The first entertainment complex could open in 2029, assuming it takes two years to finalize the regulatory framework and three years to build, Maybank Investment Bank said in a report on Friday, citing information it has collected. .

The Japanese government approved the construction of the country's first casino complex resort center in Osaka last April, and the United Arab Emirates also formulated a framework for legalizing gambling last September. Thailand, which is predominantly Buddhist and has a conservative social atmosphere, has discussed legalizing gambling in the past, but the government has not pursued it due to public opposition and conservative resistance.

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