|The Thai government’s Lottery Office said it is examining ways of running legal football (soccer) betting in Thailand, aiming to eliminate illegal bookmakers which are gaining in popularity among Thai punters. |
Somchainuk Engtrakul, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the chairman of the Government Lottery Office’s board of directors, admitted illegal football betting in Thailand is worth almost 100 billion baht ($2.5 billion) per year, much more than illegal lotteries generate.
However, Engtrakul said legal soccer betting would not happen immediately since there are many regulations and processes to be followed. A special working committee has been set up by the Lottery ministry to conduct a feasibility study on football betting, he added.
The Lottery Office will study football betting business models from England, China and Hong Kong, while special experts will be consulted. If the government decides to go ahead with the project, he added, it will take about a year to get it operational.
Illegal football booking is a growth industry in Thailand, and with only half-hearted control from related government agencies, Engtrakul said, due to certain corrupt officials and politicians. The Government Lottery Office thinks it should become the operator of football bookmaking since it will be run for the benefit of the public.
Somchainuk noted that the operating of a football bookmaking business will not be against the Government Lottery Office’s Act.