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Thailand Ready to Advance Casino Legalization Discussion

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Thailand's House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the country's National Assembly, made a significant move on Thursday by advancing a possible casino initiative. It voted to establish a committee comprising 60 members that will be tasked with investigating the feasibility and potential implications of legalizing casino complexes in Thailand, as reported by local media outlets.

Taking a Step Forward

According to information from the Bangkok Post, the newly formed committee has 90 days to conduct its investigation and present its findings. This development follows a previous initiative undertaken by the House of Representatives in December 2021, which created a similar group to study the broader possibility of legalizing various forms of gambling, including casinos, in Thailand.

Related: Casino Resorts May Be Coming to Thailand

The earlier group, officially named the "Ad-hoc Committee on the Consideration of the Opening of Entertainment Complex, the Collection of Revenue and Taxes from the Legal Casino, the Prevention and the Solution of Illegal Gambling, the Widespread of Electric Gambling Machines, and the Online Gambling," submitted a comprehensive report to the National Assembly in July 2022. This report delved into the potential introduction of casino resorts within Thailand.

The recommendations put forth by the committee suggested that the government consider permitting "entertainment complexes" that incorporate legally sanctioned casinos to be established in multiple areas across the country.

These entertainment complexes would not be focused primarily on gambling. The casino, according to the draft recommendations, would only occupy up to 5% of the entire space. The rest would be dedicated to restaurants, high-end hotels, shopping, stadiums and other tourist attractions.

It's possible that locals would be allowed to gamble, but only under certain conditions. They would have to be at least 21 and show that they have maintained at least THB500,000 (US$15,000) in the bank each month for the previous six months before being authorized to enter the gambling floor.

Thailand Undergoes Political Shift

This move comes after Thailand held a national election on May 14, resulting in the formation of a new House of Representatives. The new government officially assumed office in September, following almost four months of negotiations to form a coalition.

The country also recently put a new prime minister in office. The Pheu Thai Party's Srettha Thavisin now leads a coalition government that seeks to increase tourism to the country. The new casino committee, however, will work independently of the previous committee.

The prospect of legalizing casino gambling has been a contentious issue in Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist kingdom, in recent years. Notably, some neighboring Southeast Asian nations, including Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia, already have legal gambling venues in operation.

As the committee embarks on its task, the outcome of its findings will likely have significant implications for the future of gambling regulations and the potential establishment of casino complexes in Thailand. The intricate balance between cultural considerations, economic opportunities, and social impacts will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the final decision on this matter.

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