|The Euro 2004 Championships has produced a wave of betting throughout Asia. A report suggest that gamblers in Thailand, where soccer betting is illegal, will spend 33 billion baht ($806 million) during the Euro 2004 tournament, according to a survey by Kasikorn Research Center Co, prompting calls for legalisation.|
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says that the current ban is creating millions in revenue for underground and a legal alternative that would generate much needed tax receipts for the country and help to decrease crime. “Illegal gambling,” he told reporters this week, “is difficult to stop because they can do it over the phone or with credit cards without cash changing hands.'
Betfair’s Director of Asian Operations, Tim Levene, unsurprisingly echoes these sentiments. “Prohibition isn't working.” Levene told Bloomberg this week. “It's an unbelievably attractive market and we want a small proportion of this enormous pie.''
Mr Shinawatra, however, has offered no indication of a timeframe for a possible revue of current legislation, and efforts to reform the law would face strong political opposition from many who consider gambling to be against the Buddhist way of life.