Thailand Takes a Step Forward with Possible IR Plans


hailand announced a little more than a week ago that integrated resorts (IR) could happen in the country. As an apparent step toward that goal, five different casino sub-committees have now been created.

Thai Parliament
Thai Parliament
The Thai Parliament building, which opened in May of this year. Members of Parliament are discussing there the possibility of legalized casino gambling in the country. (Image: Bangkok Post)

There seems to be a shift occurring in the global casino market. It continues to expand and certain countries could be ramping up their gaming activity. Some of these have long been viewed as great candidates, including Thailand.

Thai Government Begins IR Exploration

At the beginning of the month, an effort to explore IRs received significant support from Thai lawmakers in Parliament. That led to the House of Representatives agreeing to establish a committee to take the idea a step further. The Bangkok Post indicates that not one, but five sub-committees have now been created.

The sub-committees will each focus on different aspects of the IR initiative. One will target legal topics and tax collection, while a second will begin investigating where a casino resort might be developed.

A third sub-committee is going to dive into attracting investments, which could expand beyond the sphere of the IR itself, and the IR’s format. Another group will explore business operations and the last will debate any possible negative impacts that legalizing casinos in the country may have.

The five groups are only conducting exploratory investigations and it’s too soon to determine what the outcome may be. Casino gambling in the country continues to be a controversial topic, but has gained more support in recent years.

Parliamentary Approval Pending

Previously, it was expected that the study by the 60-member committee announced earlier this month would take up to 90 days. With the new sub-committees, it isn’t clear if the timeframe will change. Before they can begin their tasks, the members have to first be approved by the president of the National Assembly, Chuan Leekpai.

The Thai population is reportedly on the fence when it comes to the legalization of casinos. According to a survey completed earlier this month by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), 56% are against the idea.

Many survey participants believe that casinos were responsible for many family problems, such as divorce, crime and high debt. Most oppose legalized gambling because of their Buddhist beliefs. Although Buddhism supports recreational gambling, it strongly condemns addiction to gambling activities.

A minority of people agreed with legalization. 21.25% of the respondents indicated that they feel legalized gambling could allow the government to collect more tax revenue. They also thought that legalizing gambling in the country would discourage people from seeking illegal or foreign options.

Similar legislation has been proposed for online gambling and eSports. However, 68.51% of participants were against legalizing either of them. Only 23.37% agreed to legalize each, and 2.28% gave no support for eSports.

Only 2.05% supported legalizing online gambling. The rest of the respondents did not have any comments or opinions.

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