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Thai Gambling Laws
It is legal to gamble on horse racing and certain forms of lottery in Thailand, though it is illegal for the Thai people to engage in casino betting, online gaming and sports betting. This does not stop Thai gamblers from breaking these laws, and there are many illegal sports books and gambling dens in Thailand, formerly known as Siam.
In fact, many foreign nationals from nearby countries flock to Thailand to gamble in these outlawed gambling halls. In one such case, a police bust of an illegal baccarat den found many patrons to be from Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia.
Many Thais were also among the crowd. Interestingly, the illegal gambling den raided happened to be inside a local tv & film studio, which gives an indication of how accepted the practice is.
Casino Gambling in Thailand
Casino gambling is currently not legal in Thailand, though officials have talked for years about legalizing casinos. In 2005, the Thai Tourism and Sports Minister introduced legislation allowing casinos. The prime minister at the time was cautious about such laws, and called for studies to determine the affect legalized gambling would have on Thai society.
Phuket Bay International City
Interestingly, it appears that a Japanese-Thai joint venture intends on placing a casino resort in Phuket Bay, Thailand. Umezawa & Thai Partners Architect Company announced plans in 2005 to begin building the resort, which would be finished by 2015.
The Phuket Bay Casino is described as a “floating resort city”. The position of the resort on the water might get around Thai gambling law. Phuket Bay International City would consist of five different development projects, including the Anabasis resort, a Tower Resort (the offices), a Marina City Resort, sports facilities in the Sports World Building and Good Luck Island, which presumably would be the site of the casino.
Pari-Mutuel Betting in Thailand
Royal Bangkok Sports Club (Bangkok) – The Royal Bangkok Sports Club is a race book and horsetrack on Henri Dunant Road in Bangkok, Thailand. The phone number to ask questions about the races is +66 26 52 50 0014, or you can visit their website at www.rbsc.org.
Royal Turf Club (Bangkok) – Royal Turf Club is another horseracing track in Bangkok. For general information about the Thailand Royal Turg Club, call +66 62 81 81 05.
Lottery in Thailand
The Thai national lottery is organized by the Government Lottery Office. The GLO sells two-digit and three-digit lottery tickets, though members of the Thai National Legislative Assembly have tried to make the selling of these lotto tickets illegal as recently as 2006.
The Thailand National Lottery was started in 2003, because of a large Thai lottery underground. Lawmakers considered the official state lottery would undermine organized crime. But after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a 2006 military coup, Thaksin and other ex-government officials were themselves accused of skimming $1.2 billion from state lottery revenues.
Despite the suspect history of the Government Lottery Office, the Thai Lottery appears to be popular with the Thai people.
Sports Betting in Thailand
Thai sports betting made international news in 2006 when the authorities began rounding up bookies and gamblers for illegal sports betting on the 2006 World Cup. In all, 500 people were arrested for illegal sports betting.
This didn’t stop the Thai people from sports betting, though. The remaining bookies crossed the border into Myanmar, which has a more permissive attitude towards sports betting. In all, it was thought about 36 billion baht (the currency of Thailand) were wagered on 2006 World Cup matches.
Because of the illegal nature of Thai sports gambling, it was estimated that some 1/6th of the money wagered would not be paid off. This is thought to have led to a rise in violent crime, as intimidation and assault were used to collect the outstanding sports gambling debts.
Tourist Gambling in Myanmar
2006 was not the only time the Thai people have been suspected of gambling illegally in Myanmar. In fact, the Thai army has even patrolled the Myanmarese border on various occasions, searching Thai visitors and not allowing them to cross the border with more than a certain amount of money. In 2006 in Mae Sai, the army used this method to limit the amount of money being carried by Thai tourists on holiday excursions.