|According to a piece in The Guardian newspaper, the new Prime Minister of Thailand, Samak Sundaravej, has called on Parliament to legalise casinos in a select number of tourist resorts.|
Sundaravej stated that the move would generate revenues for the State currently being lost to neighbouring casino hotspots such as Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Macao while also helping to offset the problem of black market gambling estimated to be worth up to eleven million dollars a year.
'This is one way to undermine the illegal casinos in Thailand,' said Sundaravej.
The Prime Minister’s plan would see five casinos built in Thai holiday hotspots, something hinted at for over a decade, while local players would be able to rub shoulders with foreign visitors, something illegal in most other southeast Asian nations. However, while foreign players would be able to enter the venues for free, Thais would be required to pay a $3,186 fee.
'Thais who want to gamble can gamble and police can do other jobs instead of cracking down on illegal gambling dens,' said Sundaravej.
He did not make clear whether the sum would be a one-off membership fee or a prohibitive single entry charge and his remarks, made during his weekly radio broadcast, have sowed turmoil in his cabinet with several Ministers playing down the idea, stating that it had not been debated.