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Legislation

Thailand takes first step to legalize casinos to aid economy

Wednesday 03 de April 2024 / 12:00

2 minutos de lectura

(Thailand).- Thailand took the first step toward legalizing casinos, as the government looks to attract high-spending tourists to support Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy while also checking revenue leak from illegal gambling.

Thailand takes first step to legalize casinos to aid economy

The nation’s 500-member House of Representatives Thursday voted in favor of a study by a panel of lawmakers to allow casinos to be housed within large entertainment complexes. A total of 253 out of 257 lawmakers present voted in favor of the plan. 

The lower house also gave initial nod this week to a clutch of draft bills that seek to reform the alcohol industry, including a proposal to scrap a 52-year-old rule that bans liquor sale between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Provincial officials may still be able to impose some kind of curbs on alcohol sale.

Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat said the casino study will be forwarded to the Cabinet for a decision on whether legalizing casinos is “suitable for the nation.” 

Thailand is the latest nation to consider competing for a pie of the global casino industry, which IBIS World estimates generated $263.3 billion in revenue last year. The United Arab Emirates set up a framework for legalized gaming in September, with the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah seen as frontrunners to introduce casinos.

Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and MGM Resorts International have been studying potential opening of casino resorts in Thailand as a hedge against uncertain prospects in Macau. Closer home, Singapore and Philippine casino operators are putting up a challenge to Macau, which garnered $22.75 billion in casino revenue last year.

The study found that Thailand can lift tourism revenue by about $12 billion by legalizing casinos and housing them within large entertainment complexes. Average tourist spending may surge 52% to 65,050 baht ($1,790) per trip once the entertainment hubs are built, netting an additional earnings of as much as 448.8 billion baht, according to the study.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who has been aggressively pushing policies to attract foreign investments to Thailand, had earlier Thursday backed the plan to legalize what he called “the grey economy” for better oversight and proper tax collection.

The entertainment complexes will enhance the country’s tourism industry,Srettha posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “In the past, we have wasted enough time and opportunity. The government will reclaim the lost time and turn it into an economic opportunity for the country and its citizens.”

Though most types of betting is illegal in Thailand — a majority Buddhist and conservative society — any opening of casinos will be in line with its recent embrace of a more liberal landscape to revive its tourism industry from the pandemic blow. In 2022, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis though it’s now moving to ban its recreational use, and is set to become the first in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriages.

-With assistance from Patpicha Tanakasempipat.

Categoría:Legislation

Tags: Sin tags

País: Thailand

Región: Asia

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