Will Thailand Legalise Gambling? – PokerTube

31 Dec

In Thailand, all forms of gambling are illegal except the state-run lottery. This is congruent with the typical Asian view that the pursuit is harmful to society. That said, it is no secret that the Thai population enjoys a variety of betting, even though it is illegal.

It only takes a brief search to see how many illegal online gambling operations are discovered in Thailand every month or two. There is definitely demand; the question is will the conservative government eventually relent and give in to the attraction of the extra taxation.

Brick-and-mortar casinos have been talked about by the Thai government for many years now. Voices are growing louder, trying to convince those in power that even just a small number of these for tourists will bring much-needed funds into state coffers with no downside for the country.

There is also the stance of Singapore and Japan to think about. Those governments saw the benefit of allowing locals who can prove a certain level of finances into the casinos, protecting those who clearly can’t afford it.

For online gambling, this protection obviously doesn’t exist, making it a much more complicated proposition, especially given the high number of offshore or illegal sites available.

Huge Potential

Numerous studies have shown that around 60% of the Thai population enjoy gambling in some area. From online casinos, to backstreet casinos, sportsbetting, and even poker, both live and online.

It was estimated that Thai gamblers wagered as much as $1.3 billion on just the recent FIFA World Cup. Some of them probably wished they hadn’t bothered as approximately 9,000 out of 10,644 gamblers arrested in the last month were football bettors.

But even though engaging in illegal gambling is punishable by a $1,000 fine and a year in jail, this rarely happens and punters continue to gamble from their own homes in peace.

This raises the question; if gamblers are going to gamble anyway, then why not cash in?

In November, the Thai Crime Suppression Division (CSD) police launched a major operation, codenamed “Hanuman vs online casino mafia”, against as many as 500 illegal gambling websites based in 14 provinces.

It’s clear to see that as soon as one closes down another will pop up to take its place. With limited resources, the Thai authorities are fighting a losing battle.

There is also the country’s economic struggles post-Covid to take into account. No matter how hard the government tries to ignore the benefits of legalised gambling in a country where it is prevalent anyway, missing out on this extra tax is nonsensical. Unless, of course, the profits from the illegal operations are being used to convince those with influence that everything should stay as it is.

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