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Is There A Casino In Thailand's Near Future?

Recently elected Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej, in his weekly talk show, revived the gambling debate once again in Thailand. A caller to his talk show asked the Prime Minister about casinos and betting on football matches. The PM responded by saying, "If this government gets to complete its four-year term, people will definitely get to see legalized casinos." There have been and will continue to be many that oppose legalized gambling in Thailand. But, Mr. Samak has one backer already, the Interior Minister.

Chalerm Yubamrung stated, ''We can arrange zoning, or promote casinos that mainly serve foreign tourists, while setting certain limitations for Thai customers.' There will be those that oppose Mr. Samak emphasizing all of the social ills that go along with gambling. But, the PM feels that legal gambling will eventually lead to the closure of the illegal gambling dens that are raided on an almost daily basis. The Thai Prime Minister is also considering a lotto system in which tickets are dispensed from machines instead of the current system of individual lottery ticket sellers.

Samak Sundaravej, who took office last month, mentioned in his weekly radio broadcast Sunday that he supported the concept of legalized gambling as in Macau and Malaysia, which both host thriving casino industries. Mr. Samak feels that at the beginning, gambling should start with tourist areas like Pattaya, Phuket, Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai. Thais are allowed to bet on the lottery and at two horse racetracks in Bangkok, but otherwise gambling is illegal. Yet it is widespread and tolerated: Serious high-rollers play at illegal underground casinos or cross the border to gamble at larger enterprises in Cambodia and Myanmar. One positive would be that the money remains in Thailand instead of going across the border. Another positive aspect is that it would be geared toward tourists primarily and should have a minimal impact on the poorer Tha´s. There will be those that are anti-gambling and will make a case that this will impact the young people of Thailand and others that will support it saying that a percentage of the money will fund educational projects. Establishing a casino in Thailand, like the ones in Macau, Malaysia, and Singapore has been discussed and debated for many years in Thailand with the people always voting it down. Perhaps with this new government in place, a system of legalized gambling will be implemented that will help the economy and not hurt the local people.


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