Thai House Approves Proposal for Casino in Bangkok: Report Examines Economic Impact and Potential Challenges

The Thai House of Representatives has approved a report proposing the establishment of a casino-entertainment zone in Thailand. The report, prepared by a special committee over a period of 240 days, examines the economic impact of an entertainment complex with a casino in attracting foreign visitors, while also considering potential challenges.

The report received a vote of 310 to nine in favor of its endorsement. Members of the committee stressed that the report does not call for the immediate establishment of casinos, but rather explores the possibility as a source of income for the country. They emphasized that if casinos were to be developed, the positive and negative impacts must be thoroughly assessed.

The decision on the casino-entertainment project is expected to be made by the next government, and it cannot happen within the next two or three years. Public hearings and a referendum among locals must also be organized to ensure public input and participation.

Several MPs highlighted the need for oversight to prevent casinos from contributing to social ills and becoming hubs for money laundering. The report suggests that Bangkok, along with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and areas within a 100-kilometer radius of Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports, would be suitable locations for a casino complex.

The initial plan for the complex includes five-star hotels, shopping malls, beauty and spa parlors, amusement parks, zoos, indoor and outdoor sports stadiums, and of course, the casinos themselves. The report also proposes the permission of eight types of gambling activities, including online casinos, betting on stock exchange index and foreign exchange rates, and betting on the results of international and local sporting events.

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While the report has received approval, it has also faced criticism. Thanakorn Komkrit, the secretary-general of the Stop Gambling Foundation, criticized the report for not adequately addressing the prevention of illegal gambling dens and online gambling. He also expressed concerns about the exploitation of casinos by criminal gangs for money laundering.

The report, along with the comments from members of the House of Representatives, will now be submitted to the government for further consideration. The decision on whether to establish a casino-entertainment zone in Thailand will be made in the future, with careful assessment of the potential impacts and public opinion.

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