A Thai lawmaker says it could take years for the government to make a decision on legal casinos, making it likely that the venues, if approved, will not be open and operational until the end of the decade at the earliest.
“A decision on the casino-entertainment complex project is likely to be made by the next government,” said Pakornwut Udompipatsakul, who serves on the committee charged with studying casinos in the kingdom, in comments to the Bangkok Post. “It can’t happen within two or three years and most importantly, public hearings and even a referendum among locals must be organized.”
Thailand’s general election will take place in early May.
In July 2022, the parliamentary committee submitted a report to the National Assembly, exploring the introduction of casino resorts in Thailand. It recommended the government allow “entertainment complexes” that include legal casinos, and that they be set up in a number of areas across the country. Currently, Thai nationals who want to gamble legally cross the border into Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos.
According to GGRAsia, while casinos could be a source of revenue for the government, some lawmakers are concerned about the potential social impacts, such as gambling addiction and money laundering.
The committee’s report is on its way to cabinet members for consideration.
Should casinos be legalized, a recommended framework for their development is already in place. Gaming areas may not occupy more than 5 percent of gross floor area. The complexes would include five-star hotels, shopping malls, amusement parks, sports facilities and other non-gaming attractions.
As reported by Inside Asian Gaming, locals would have to be 21 or older and show proof of income to enter and play. The casinos would also be open to foreigners. Gaming revenue would be taxed at 30 percent.
Among the proposed locations for casinos in Thailand: the country’s Eastern Economic Corridor. The study also recommends that IRs be designated as special administrative areas to be jointly funded by the public and private sectors, with budgets to exceed “a similar project undertaken in Singapore.” That suggests multibillion-dollar investments akin to Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, operated in Singapore by Genting and the Las Vegas Sands Corp., respectively.
In related news, last year Thai law enforcement arrested 461 people on charges of using illegal online gaming websites. Both land-based and online gaming are illegal in Thailand.