ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Casino issue surfaces again in ThailandBy David Swartzemtruber
Thailand is a country that has numerous laws that prohibit certain activities and among those is gambling.
Rather than following the lead of Asean nations, such as Cambodia, Laos and Singapore in allowing casinos to be built and taxed, Thailand prohibits. This sends many gambling Thais over the border to Cambodia or Laos to gamble in casinos that are reportedly owned by Thais.
However, the existence of illegal casinos in Bangkok is commonly accepted.
This week the issue flared up in the government’s policy debate when MP Chuvit Kamolvisit, a lawmaker who made his fortune with a string of massage parlors showed a clip in parliament of a gambling casino operated by the Royal Thai poloce. He called for the new government of Yingluck Shinawatra to erase this blight from the city’s landscape.
The existence of the casino was at first denied by the police but a day later six policemen were transferred from the district in which the casino was located. The following day a policy visit to the site revealed that all the gambling equipment from the casino had been removed.
This week Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung, who is carrying the ball for government on the issue, announced a major casino crackdown. He said that he had been gathering information on the casinos for a year.
The crackdown will probably make the news for a few weeks and after that, most believe the casinos will start again at new locations.
It would seem that the most practical solution would be to allow legal casinos that would generate revenue for the government. However, that would go against the strong anti-gambling Buddhist beliefs held by many in Thailand as well as those in the shadows who operate the illegal casinos.
It would seem that at some point a courageous political leader should seriously debate the issue. During the earlier Thaksin Shinawatra administrations, 2000-2006, legalization of gambling was broached, igniting a fierce public debate that shelved Mr. Thaksin’s casino proposals.
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