Thailand Eyes Casino Complex To Boost the Tourism Industry

Calls have been made for the government to establish Thailand’s first entertainment-casino complex in Hat Yai, aimed at enhancing tourism. Initially, the complex would be exclusively accessible to foreign visitors.

The proposal came from Sitthipong Sitthiphataraprabha, the leader of the Hat Yai-Songkhla Hotels Association, who expressed his support for the venture, highlighting its potential to stimulate economic growth.

“The advantage of Songkhla’s Hat Yai district is that it is located near a neighboring country [Malaysia]. If a legal casino is to be opened, illegal online gambling should not be allowed to exist so taxes can be properly collected from legal casinos.”

“However, measures should be devised to regulate the complex to prevent any negative social impacts,” Mr. Sitthipong said.

Despite some resistance to the idea of legal casinos, Mr. Sitthipong advises the government to market the complex as a tourism site. Initially, access would be limited to international guests to evaluate the financial and social outcomes.

He suggested the government should first examine the number of Thai nationals visiting overseas casinos and their expenditure to determine the feasibility of permitting Thai entry into domestic casinos.

Mr. Sitthipong also highlighted that the complex would not only cater to gamblers but also offer a variety of attractions such as amusement parks, hotels, and dining options, providing alternatives for visitors uninterested in gambling.

“It is time for Thailand to legalize casinos. Neighboring countries already have casinos, and many of their patrons are Thais,” he said.

Concurrently, the Move Forward Party expressed concerns regarding a report by a special House committee on the viability of inaugurating entertainment and casino venues.

This report received the approval of the House of Representatives.

Rangsiman Rome, a representative from the Move Forward Party and a committee member, noted the study’s deficiency in addressing countermeasures for online gambling, money laundering, and illegitimate enterprises.

“Gambling problems still persist, such as online gambling or gambling dens that are illegally operated in the provinces,” Mr. Rangsiman stated.

“I don’t think that the opening of such an entertainment complex will offer a solution to the problems. No measures have been conceived to prevent these problems. The report has failed to address the problems, but the House of Representatives approved it,” Mr. Rangsiman said.

Mr. Rangsiman clarified that while the MFP is not against legal casinos, the report presented was incomplete.

Kosol Pattama, representing Pheu Thai from Nakhon Ratchasima, announced plans to introduce legislation concerning the project in the forthcoming session, spanning from July 3 to October 30.

He also mentioned that legislators from other parties are anticipated to submit proposals on similar initiatives to the parliament.

Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, supported the initiative, emphasizing the importance of adherence to legal standards.

Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat, leading the committee on this issue, earlier conveyed that the study indicated potential economic advantages from such entertainment complexes.

He further shared that the committee’s examination of analogous setups in Singapore and the US revealed no emergent issues from their operation.