Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he is now considering legalizing gambling an action that has been opposed for decades in the Kingdom. Much of Thailand’s recent coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to a number of illegal gambling dens.
Due to constant occurrence of gambling dens its has prompted suggestions that legalizing gambling would be a more practical approach. Especially in containing the spread of Covid-19 at spread at illegal gambling dens.
Gen Prayut recently admitted it was hard to curb gambling and has now said he is open to holding public discussions about the pros and cons of legalizing gambling. Even though he opposes gambling personally.
In his capacity as chairman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), on Friday he said it was time to begin discussing the possibility of legalizing gambling in Thailand. The PM also said the key question was whether legalized gambling would be considered morally correct by most Thais since not everyone considered gambling acceptable.
On Thursday he approved the formation of a 15-member committee tasked with inspecting the handling of illegal border crossings by migrants, which is also believed to be a factor in the current spread of Covid-19. The panel is headed by Pakdee Pothisiri, a former member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
Gen Prayut has also approved the formation of a 10-member committee tasked with inspecting state officials’ investigations into cases of illegal gambling. The two committees have been tasked with working until the end of the Covid-19 pandemic and are required to report their findings to Gen Prayut every month.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said that the two committees would work with the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to track the money trail of both illegal activities. “I believe these committees should be able to win the trust of the members of the public,” Mr Wissanu said. “After all, locals are believed to know best about what’s going on in their communities, so they are being urged to cooperate with these authorities,” he added.
In addition, the Royal Thai Police said it will find out by Monday whether any police officers in the Bang Bua Thong district of Nonthaburi should be held responsible for allegedly turning a blind eye to an illegal gambling den that was raided on Thursday night.
RTP spokesman Pol Maj Gen Yingyos Thepchamnong said the probe to identify the owners and masterminds behind illegal gambling dens in Rayong, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces, which have become major Covid-19 clusters will soon be completed.
Last week Police in the resort town of Pattaya have raided a condominium and arrested 16 foreigners and 5 Thai for illegal gambling. The raid took place at the Espana Condominium & Resort in the early hours of Saturday. A combined team of Pattaya police, tourist police and health officials jointly raided Espana Condominium & Resort around 1am on Saturday.
The team found 21 people gambling inside rooms 517 and 518 on the fifth floor of the condominium complex. The 21 people apprehended were 14 Chinese Nationals, five Thais, a Singaporean and a Cambodian. Gambling tables, chips and decks of cards were seized by authorities
*Unless properly regulated, controlled including the right taxation, legalising gambling in a market such as Thailand could turn against the country. The ideal formula, should be to focus gambling in certain cities or destinations and make it equally available for locals and foreign travellers alike.
Restricting it to foreigners, like in Egypt, has created an entire counterfeiting of id-s, today, entering a casino for a local (whether Muslim or Christian) is something normal. Ironically, 80% of those frequenting casinos in Cairo are actually foreign travellers from GCC countries, in particular Saudi Arabia. An important factor that contributed to the success of developing Cairo into a gambling destination, has been affordability. A standard double room in a five star hotel operated by an international chain can be book for USD 100-120 and direct flights to Cairo are widely affordable.
Similar to the plans of China related to casinos, Thailand should also tie-in large retail developments, specifically tax free and luxury. This is what is evolving in China with the Southern province of Hainan – Sanya. In Cairo, also due to the sheer spread and size of the metropolis, luxury shopping is presently scattered around in various malls or shopping centres. In this way, shaping an attracting gambling destination may also attract non-gamers – luxury shopping, dining and entertainment are also part of the mix that have consolidated Las Vegas as a destination.
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