Casino Committee in Thailand Ready To Present Findings on Suitability

Efforts to introduce legal casinos in Thailand continue to progress. The government committee that is leading the charge is wrapping up its investigation and should turn over its findings before the end of the week.

Thailand's Parliament
Thailand's Parliament
A look inside Thailand’s Parliament. The government could soon be ready to approve or deny a measure to introduce casino gambling to the country. (Image: The Bangkok Post)

Throughout the process, Thailand has determined that it could support as many as five integrated resorts (IR). The country’s House of Representatives took the initiative to explore the possibility, creating a committee comprised of 60 representatives in June.

That committee includes 15 representatives from the Thai cabinet, as well as 45 members of different political parties. Now that it has approved the final draft of the proposal, the group will forward its recommendations to the House speaker, Chuan Leekpai, this week.

Casinos to Bring Economic Development

Across 24 separate meetings, the committee explored every angle of legalized casinos. What they came up with was a plan that will create economic development in depressed areas that offer strategic access for international travel.

In addition, the proposal will lay out the tax obligations of the industry, as well as investment and operator requirements. There will also be guidelines to combat potential money laundering and responsible gambling.

The committee isn’t divulging many details about its final report. It offered periodic updates over the past couple of months, but will leave it up to the House to share publicly whatever information it feels deserves attention at this time. The Bangkok Post expects the House speaker to receive the report tomorrow.

After the House reviews the proposal, there are still more hurdles to cross. The country’s parliament has to approve the project before it gets off the ground.

While the committee didn’t share details, it’s safe to assume that investment requirements will be substantial. Thailand is likely going to compete with Japan and Macau, both of which expect massive injections of capital to fuel their respective casino markets. Fortunately, Thailand may have an ace in the hole with the potential of Las Vegas Sands entering the market.

Thai Prime Minister Hangs On

There was a chance that a disruption in Thailand’s government might throw the IR effort off-kilter. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recently found himself fending off an attack from the opposition and a call for a vote of no confidence.

However, just like he has done in the past, Prayuth has emerged. There was a no-confidence vote held this past Saturday, with the 68-year-old leader surviving. This was the fourth time he has had to defend himself, and he has won every time.

Prayuth has been in charge of the government since he took over through a coup in 2014. His latest victory was by no means a landslide. But it will allow him to stay in power until his term officially ends next March.

As a result, there will be little disruption between now and then. This means that the government can continue to work on its different projects with only limited interference. Moreover, should the House sign off on the IR project and send it to parliament quickly, there’s a good chance final approval could arrive within a year.

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