The legalisation of casino gambling in Thailand could bring annual tax revenues to the country of over THB100 billion (US$2.8 billion). The estimate is included in a study unveiled on Thursday during a press conference headed by the dean of Rangsit University’s College of Social Innovation, Sungsidh Piriyarangsan.
The forecast excludes other contributions from tourism, Mr Sungsidh said, quoted by the Bangkok Post newspaper. Such forecast accounts for the possibility of locals being allowed to gamble.
Mr Sungsidh estimated casino legalisation could drive up the number of foreign visitors to Thailand by 40 percent to 50 percent, based on the models of Singapore and Macau.
The scholar said the team responsible for the study surveyed 2,500 Thai nationals between May and August last year. The results showed most respondents agreed with legalising casinos in the country, stating it would increase tourism income and create new jobs, reported the Bangkok Post. The report did not quote figures regarding how many interviewees supported the idea of legal casinos in Thailand.
Mr Sungsidh reportedly said that Thailand could look at Singapore as a successful case regarding casino legalisation, including for measures to reduce the negative social impact of legal gambling.
The current military government in Thailand appears to have little appetite for legalising casinos within the Buddhist kingdom itself.
In June, a minority group on Thailand’s National Reform Council (NRC) suggested legalising casino gaming in the country, according to local media reports at the time. The NRC minority group suggested that Pattaya, a beach destination popular with foreign holidaymakers that is 147 kilometres (91.3 miles) southeast of the capital Bangkok, was a logical location for any casino resort.
But weeks later the head of Thailand’s military government, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha – a former commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army – ordered what was then his national police chief, General Somyot Poompanmoung, to stop talking up the prospects of that happening.
General Somyot had said illegal gambling was “rampant” within Thailand, and that money raised from taxes on legalised casino gambling could be spent on education and social affairs within the country. Scholar Mr Sungsidh argued on Thursday that legalising casinos in Thailand could help reduce the number of cases of illegal gambling.
Thai nationals are regarded an important target market for some casinos in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia. Earlier this month, Genting Singapore Plc, operator of the Resorts World Sentosa casino resort in Singapore, announced it had set up an indirectly held subsidiary in Thailand for marketing its services.
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”So far the Macau government has never failed us. And I think we have always been rewarded appropriately for the amount of investment”
Lawrence Ho Yau Lung
Chairman and chief executive of Melco Resorts and Entertainment