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Thailand making movements for possible gambling legislation and Asia's growth potential

Thailand Prime Minister, Prayut Cha-O-Cha is looking into legalising gambling to curb the spread of Covid-19.


The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are widespread and felt throughout various industries.

For the iGaming industry, the pandemic has led to more regions focusing on expanding and reconsidering the lack of a regulated online market.

Asia is one of the many regions where the government has opened up to the possibility of a legal market after studying the pros and cons of such.

Open to possible legislation change

Thailand is not new to the idea of legalised gambling and has toyed with draft bills in the past. However, most of these bills were shot down by parliament or disappeared during periods of change in the government. Currently, it is illegal to take part in any form of gambling apart from the state lottery or horse betting via Bangkok Turf Club.

Now Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-Cha has announced that despite his opposition to gambling, he is willing to look at the pros and cons. The main reason for his sudden change of heart is an alleged link to illegal gambling establishments resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak. This along with the already growing numbers of illegal gambling was enough to make the Prime Minister reconsider.

The first step towards change would be to seek the view of the Thai nation on legalised gambling. The Prime Minister made it clear that it is important to get the vote of the people as not all consider it morally correct or acceptable.

Committees and investigations

There will be two committees formed to provide General Prayut Chan-o-Cha and his team with information regarding the current gambling situation in Thailand. One committee will focus on authority investigations of illegal gambling and the other will investigate illegal border crossings.

Furthermore, both committees will collaborate with the Anti-Money Laundering Office to track the flow of illegal funds. According to sources, the main objective is to shine a light on possible police and military involvement in terms of illegal gambling activity in the region.

Taking down illegal gambling operations

Just recently a major online gambling operation happening in converted shipping containers came to light. The illegal operations took place in a village on the border of Cambodia accepting bets from thousands of players per day.

The illegal operations were put on hold after police busted in on the location and arrested 17 men and 17 women. The suspects already admitted to being administrators for four gambling websites where bets can be placed for underground lotteries taking place in Thailand and neighbouring countries.

Growth potential

Thailand is one of the regions considered to have a lot of growth potential in terms of gambling. There has already been plenty of interest from casino leaders such as Las Vegas Sands who wants to build an integrated resort within the country.

The minority politicians also believe that legalising gambling within the region could bring in tax revenue of about THB5-6 billion. It will also help cut down border crossing for casino gameplay in other regions.

Overall, Asia makes up about 60% of the world population and it is the middle point of several expanding world economies. According to a market research report by Transparency Market Research, online casinos, and the expectancy of the betting market in the Asia Pacific could expand by 14% annually between now and 2026.

This lucrative market is the ultimate playground with operators from across the globe looking to dominate. There are still a few complications and regulatory issues that need to be addressed.
For now, there is some excitement surrounding the Prime Minister's mention of being open to the idea of legalising online gambling. Before then, in-depth research and investigations are to be put into place to ensure it is the right move and pleasing to the majority.

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