Thailand to permit casinos in a bid to cash on Macau uncertainty

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A parliamentary committee exploring the introduction of casino resorts in Thailand, on Wednesday submitted a report to the National Assembly, reported Bloomberg. The proposal also includes a 30% tax on casino revenues.

The report contained a recommendation for the Government to issue a decree, allowing for “entertainment complexes” under national law. These complexes would include legal casinos and be built in key cities across the country. The entertainment complex system is similar to integrated resorts contemplated by Japan. 

It is worth noting that the Thailand’s Gambling Act of 1935 prohibits most types of betting but contains a provision that gives the government powers to issue decrees or licences that green-light certain gaming activities and venues.

In June, the committee had suggested it could be viable to have five casino resorts spread across the country, as localised drivers of economic development.

The proposal to permit casinos comes as the South Asian country seeks to revive its tourism industry after the impact of Covid19 and at the same time cash on the regulatory uncertainty in Macau.

Bloomberg quoted Pichet Chuamuangphan, a lawmaker from the Pheu Thai Party, who is a vice chairman of the committee, saying: “We’re focused on attracting foreigners to step up tourism and draw more money out of their pockets.”

He reportedly added: “This will also stem the outflow of money from Thai gamblers and help the government collect hefty taxes for our economic security.”

Mr Pichet said that at least THB400 billion (US$10.9 billion) in additional tax revenue would be collected annually once several gaming venues are operating.

The proposal also suggests that Thai nationals who are at least 20, and have a minimum THB500,000 in bank accounts, would only be allowed to gamble.

Thai lawmakers will deliberate on whether to act on the committee’s recommendations, a process that could be concluded before a parliamentary recess in September, Mr Pichet was quoted by Bloomberg