Thailand mulls over legal online gambling after report lands

National Assembly of Thailand consider legal gambling
Thai authorities hope legal gambling will stamp out the underground trade.

The National Assembly of Thailand are deliberating on a special report proposing casino and online gambling in the country.

The report recommended the creation of entertainment complexes that will feature integrated resorts housing legal casinos and other tourist attractions in yet-to-be-determined areas the country.

The report, which proposes other recommendations guiding the introduction of legal gambling, was first submitted to the National Assembly in July, 2022, and was presented to the parliament on January 12, 2023.

The Thai parliament set up a committee in 2021 named the “Ad-hoc Committee on the Consideration of the Opening of Entertainment Complex, the Collection of Revenue and Taxes from the Legal Casino, the Prevention and the Solution of Illegal Gambling, the Widespread of Electric Gambling Machines, and the Online Gambling”.

This is the committee that prepared the report detailing guidelines on the introduction of legal gambling in Thailand, including conducting a poll to know if the people support the idea. The recommendations of their report is what will be considered on the Assembly’s floor.

One of the recommendations of the report was that gaming floors in the Integrated Resorts should only take 5% of the whole space. This is so there would be more than enough space left to host tourist attractions such as world-class hotels, amusement parks, zoos, spa and beauty parlours and indoor and outdoor stadiums.

The report also recommends entertainment complexes to be bigger than those in Singapore and that they are treated as a special administrative regions, much like how China treats Macau. This means despite being in Thailand, the entertainment zone will have its own governing laws and some form of autonomy. However, the space will be managed as a joint venture between the public and private sectors.

The committee is currently looking at eight forms of gambling, namely online casinos, sports gambling, event betting, esports betting, online bingo, foreign lottery betting and spread betting.

Meanwhile, to be eligible to play any of these casino games, you either have to be a foreigner or a local aged 21 years and above with proof of funds of at least TBH500,000 (US$15,000) held in your account for the past six months. Entry fees into any casino will be required and all winnings will be subject to tax.

As for where these entertainment complexes will be located, the report names Bangkok and areas inside Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) – which includes the likes of Pattaya and Rayong – as the most profitable locations, especially since these sites are close to the Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports.

Public support for the proposal is high as the committee records an 80% positive response from the 3,296 citizens it polled concerning their view on legal gambling in the country. According to Mr. Boonlue Prasertsopar, the House committee’s vice chairman, this is essential to the success of the project.

“We need an entertainment complex that is acceptable by the people first before we can speak in more detail about the online aspect,” he said.

“Other countries like the United Kingdom, Singapore, Vietnam and some states in the United States already have these entertainment complexes which eventually led to the legalisation of online gambling in their countries.

“There is no denying that online gambling exists in Thailand, but we are still unable to tax them in order to make extra income for the country.”

Show More