Casino Legalization May Occur As Plan Gains Public Support

A bitter dispute over the controversial legalization of Thai casinos appears to be close to resolution after a report showed overwhelming public support for the plan.

The committee formed by the House of Representatives to discuss the idea published a preliminary report, suggesting that the legal work essential for the casinos could be established before parliament ends its term next year. It could lead to the legislation required to make it possible for “entertainment complexes,” another term for casinos, to exist and operate.

The House committee has been working diligently for months as it considers the potential effects of legalizing gambling on society.

The panel has completed its report, which will be forwarded to the administration and parliament. Authorities should consider whether the complexes deserve significant attention, but its members are optimistic that the government will implement the plan soon.

The study is divided into four sections: regulations governing tax and revenue collection, complexes’ impact on residents’ quality of life, ways to invest in complexes, and related gaming activities examined. It was designed to gather opinion surveys, academic research from inside and outside the country, and literature reviews.

The legislation enables casino legislation to generate money and collect taxes. However, they must be owned and managed by the state unless the government offers a concession to private firms to operate them.

But the report noted that the legal definitions of “gambling” and “entertainment complex” are ambiguous. According to the Excise Department, casinos may be required to pay excise tax if and when they are approved and open for business.

The Excise Tax Act defines that a subordinate law, such as a royal decree or ministerial regulation, should be issued to authorize “gambling services” and set excise tax rates for these businesses.

The money that the casinos win is considered taxable income. Therefore, it must be declared as income tax with the Revenue Department.

The report also addresses ways to mitigate the impacts of casinos on several fronts, including finances, social factors, operating taxes, investments, and suitable areas to build entertainment complexes. Online and offline gambling were also assessed.

The study also focused on aspects such as the clients’ age limit, corrective measures for victims of compulsive gambling, and entrance fees, among others.

Meanwhile, forums have been held to gauge people’s opinions on the projects. Opinions collected have been mixed, but support appears to be growing. An opinion survey conducted by Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University discovered that 80% of Thailand’s residents supported the plan.