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Prime Minister to weigh in on legalising gambling

Prime Minister to weigh in on legalising gambling

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he will consider legalising gambling in Thailand, a contentious course of action that has been opposed for decades.

By Bangkok Post

Saturday 16 January 2021, 09:31AM

A raid on a gambling den in Phuket in 2016. Photo: The Phuket News file

A raid on a gambling den in Phuket in 2016. Photo: The Phuket News file

Much of Thailand’s recent coronavirus outbreak has been linked to a number of illegal gambling dens, prompting suggestions that legalising gambling would be a more practical approach in containing the spread of Covid-19, Bangkok Post reports.

Gen Prayut recently admitted it was hard to curb gambling and is now said to be open to holding public discussions about the pros and cons of legalising gambling, even though he opposes it personally.

Gen Prayut, in his capacity as chairman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), on Friday said it was time to begin discussing the possibility of legalising gambling in Thailand, according to CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin.

The PM said the key question was whether legalised gambling would be considered morally correct by most Thais since not everyone considered gambling acceptable.

On Thursday he approved the formation of a 15-member committee tasked with inspecting the handling of illegal border crossings by migrants, which is also believed to be a factor in the current spread of Covid-19.

The panel is headed by Pakdee Pothisiri, a former member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

Gen Prayut has also approved the formation of a 10-member committee tasked with inspecting state officials’ investigations into cases of illegal gambling.

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The two committees have been tasked with working until the end of the Covid-19 pandemic and are required to report their findings to Gen Prayut every month.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said that the two committees would work with the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to track the money trail of both illegal activities.

"I believe these committees should be able to – to some extent – win the trust of the members of the public," Mr Wissanu said.

"After all, locals are believed to know best about what’s going on in their communities, so they are being urged to cooperate with these authorities," he added.

In addition, the Royal Thai Police said it will find out by Monday whether any police officers in the Bang Bua Thong district of Nonthaburi should be held responsible for allegedly turning a blind eye to an illegal gambling den that was raided on Thursday night.

More than 40 suspects were detained in the operation that was carried out by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD).

RTP spokesman Pol Maj Gen Yingyos Thepchamnong said the probe to identify the owners and masterminds behind illegal gambling dens in Rayong, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces – which have become major Covid-19 clusters – will soon be completed.

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CaptainJack69 | 17 January 2021 - 13:01:10

"The panel is headed by... a former member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission". So someone with first hand experience of just how important "morality" actually is around here.

CaptainJack69 | 17 January 2021 - 12:58:19

Yup, Thai owned and run. Just like all the casino's just over the border in Laos, Cambodia and Burma have been for decades. Thai's love gambling and in real life couldn't care less how "moral" it is.

Capt B | 17 January 2021 - 02:31:50

OK. Legalize gambling casinos in Thailand, however, should be 100% owned & operated, financed & crewed by Thai Nationals.

Galong | 16 January 2021 - 16:19:23

The only downside I can think of is idiots losing money that they need to live on, but they'd probably do that anyway. Legalize it, tax it, take the criminal element (cops/politicians?) out of the profit-making.

Kurt | 16 January 2021 - 11:32:22

Change Government thinking, like S'pore did in the past. Have Government casino's. Good source of Government income ( see S'pore) instead of letting flow money away to just over the borders. At least allow social retirees clubs to play openly bridge, as retirees did in day time in Pattaya and were treated as criminals by RTP.


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