Newspaper Advises Against Thailand Casinos


Posted on: November 15, 2023, 01:12h.

Last updated on: November 15, 2023, 01:13h.

Thailand might emerge as a prominent casino destination in the Asia-Pacific region, with the introduction of integrated resorts. However, skeptics argue that these additions could lead to increased corruption and human trafficking within the Southeast Asian nation’s borders.

Thailand's Parliament
A look inside Thailand’s Parliament. The government is warming to allowing casinos in the country, but some believe it’s a bad idea. (Image: The Bangkok Post)

A recent op-ed in the Bangkok Post sheds light on the struggles of 164 Thai citizens trapped in Myanmar’s Shan state due to ongoing conflicts. Many of these individuals were lured to Myanmar under the pretext of job opportunities in call centers and casinos, but some may have fallen victim to human trafficking activities related to the gaming industry.

Myanmar’s border casinos near Thailand are suspected of engaging in illicit activities beyond gambling, such as narcotics and human trafficking operations. They are also believed to facilitate money laundering, potentially involving corrupt Thai officials and syndicates. These proceeds may then be channeled back into Thailand for various purposes.

These operations not only involve gambling. The dens are reported to be involved in narcotics and human trafficking and are known to be safe havens for money laundering,” according to the Post’s editorial. “Through collaboration with corrupt Thai officials and Thai conspirators, it would be no surprise if this illicit money is then diverted back into Thailand and laundered via the purchase of real estate, supercars, luxury designer accessories.”

The piece also criticizes the Thai government for its ineffective measures in addressing human smuggling.

Thai Policymakers Exploring Casino Options

There are key distinctions between the casinos in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, and the integrated resorts prevalent in Asia-Pacific markets like Macau and Singapore.

Thai policymakers are evaluating the potential licensing of traditional, regulated gambling facilities. They have recently established a committee to investigate the matter. Despite having less gaming infrastructure than other regional nations like Macau and Singapore, Thailand is displaying an increasing willingness to embrace integrated resorts.

Many anticipate that prominent gaming firms would seek licenses if Thailand opens its doors to regulated casino hotels. While this could boost government revenues, it is likely to intensify human trafficking issues within the country, as noted by the Post.

Furthermore, a study supporting Thailand’s casino expansion could attract unwelcome influences from neighboring countries, particularly in the realm of iGaming.

Corruption Challenges for Thai Casino Prospects

Even in the event of Thailand permitting regulated gambling facilities, the country’s deeply entrenched corruption may deter the participation of leading industry players.

It is widely believed that obtaining approval for casino hotels outside the US often involves underhand dealings and payoffs. This presents a major hurdle for operators reluctant to engage in such activities.

Transparency.org’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Thailand 101st out of 180 countries. The nation scored a mere 36 out of 100 on the CPI scale due to its widespread corruption issues.

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