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Legal gambling plan denied

BUSINESS: The Finance Minister denies having a plan to legalise gambling, saying the incumbent director of the Government Lottery Office should expedite the selection of a new chief, who will be responsible for future policies.

Friday 7 October 2011, 06:11PM

Finance Minister Teerachai Bhuvanartnaranubala denied having spoken with Director of the Government Lottery Office (GLO) Wanchai Surakul, about amendments to Section 5 and 22 of the Government Lottery Office Act 1974 to legalise casinos as a type of entertainment complex.

He added that the primary task for Mr Wanchai is to expedite the selection of a new director after Mr Wanchai earlier announced his resignation, effective as of October 1. However, his term has been extended until November to allow for more time to select an appropriate replacement.

Sangsit Piriyarangsan, Dean of the College of Social Innovation at Rangsit University, said there was approximately B1.2 trillion in circulation in illegal gambling from 1993 to the present.

He observed that the GLO director was asking for public opinion on whether they agreed with legalising gambling.

Mr Sangsit said if the legalisation of gambling was approved by the public and realised by the Government, the industry would be a massive source of state revenue to fund government spending plans. However, the construction of a casino in Thailand needs to consider regional competition, as it could suffer severe losses if not careful.

Mr Wanchai announced in July his intention to resign, citing health problems and frustration with his work because the GLO has no power to do anything as planned but has to wait for decisions from the GLO board and policymakers.

The GLO director was earlier reported to have suffered from stress because of the long-delayed online lottery project. – TAN



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