Gambling Industry Analyst Suggests Thailand Casinos May Not Interest US Operators

The prospect of a regulated casino market in Thailand has ignited excitement within the global gaming industry. However, despite the country's recent steps towards legalization, major US gaming operators may not be rushing to enter the market. According to Seaport Research Senior Analyst Vitaly Umansky, the draft regulations currently being prepared by Thailand are not yet strong enough to attract US operators known for their stringent compliance standards.

Buddha statues at the Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon temple in Thailand (Source: Pinterest)

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Umansky, who is also the former Managing Director & Senior Analyst - Global Gaming Managing Director & Senior Analyst - Global Gaming for AB Bernstein, expressed his doubts in a recent note examining the growth prospects of Wynn Resorts, which has previously expressed interest in expanding into Thailand. He explained that Thailand is "too early in the process," adding that he doesn't believe the "market will not be ready for the US regulated operators to be involved."

Related: Urgent Study of Casinos in Thailand Set to Begin

The draft regulations have been met with criticism for potentially prioritizing local operators and lacking sufficient safeguards against money laundering and other illicit activities. These concerns echo similar sentiments expressed by other US gaming companies, including MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands. They have also hinted at potential interest in Thailand but have remained cautious in their public statements.

For Thailand, the stakes are high. The introduction of casinos is seen as a potential catalyst for economic growth, with the promise of increased tourism, job creation and a new source of government revenue.

The challenge lies in crafting regulations that can satisfy the rigorous standards of international operators while balancing the social and cultural nuances unique to Thailand. It's a delicate dance as the country seeks to position itself as a premier gaming destination in Asia.

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Wait-and-See Approach

While the potential of the Thai market is undeniable, the current regulatory framework may not be sufficiently robust to satisfy the demands of US operators. These companies are accustomed to operating in highly regulated environments and may be hesitant to enter a market where the regulatory landscape is still evolving. Additionally, the potential for local operators to be given preferential treatment could further deter US companies, accustomed to a level playing field.

The situation could change if Thailand revises its draft regulations to address the concerns raised by US operators and other stakeholders. This could involve strengthening anti-money laundering measures, ensuring transparency in the licensing process, and creating a more level playing field for both domestic and international operators. However, it is unclear how quickly and to what extent these revisions might be made.

In the meantime, US gaming companies are likely to adopt a wait-and-see approach, monitoring the development of the Thai market and its regulatory environment before making any definitive decisions. The potential rewards are significant, but the current regulatory framework may not be enough to entice them to take the plunge.


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