Gambling crackdowns, short-lived, fizzle out when the public gets bored. Police bribes soon resume and the lucrative underground industry continues.
In Legalised gambling in Thailand? The pros and the cons (2008) Chulalongkorn University professor Pasuk Phongpaichit explores both sides of this longstanding issue.
Click button to listen to Gambling Legalised to download
ILLEGAL CASINOS, Academic makes case for legalised gambling, SPECIAL REPORT: Study suggests wiping out the industry is impossible, so it is better to regulate and control it by King-oua Laohong
Gambling should be legalised and regulated because it is a lucrative industry and it is inevitable people will gamble, while police will take bribes to allow it, a respected academic said yesterday.
Sungsidh Piriyarangsan, director of Chandrakasem Rajabhat University's PhD Programme in Good Governance, conducted research into gambling in Thailand and concluded the illicit business can never be eliminated.
Some casinos might close temporarily when authorities publicly flex their muscles, but they always reopen later, his research found.
Mr Sungsidh said his research revealed there are more than 170 casinos in Bangkok. Ten are large and permanent, 60 are small and medium-sized, while more than 100 are mobile outfits. Between 180 and 200 billion baht changes hands in Bangkok dens annually. Casino owners make 38-40 billion baht in profit and pay 5-20% of their illegal gains, or 2-8 billion baht, as bribes.
Nationwide there could be hundreds of thousands of illegal gambling operations, with most of them being small dens.
Throughout Thailand, an estimated 640-820 billion baht changes hands in the industry each year with profits put at around 90 billion baht.
Mr Sungsidh has proposed the government solve gambling by convincing police not to receive bribes and legalising casinos, although they must be free of the vested interests of politicians and associates.
"Illegal casinos will continue to exist," he said. "Big casinos may be closed at the moment but secret gambling dens are still allowed to operate every day."
Whenever police take action, casinos will be closed for a while but everything will be the same afterwards.
According to a Bangkok police source, several casinos in Bangkok cater exclusively to rich gamblers.
Operators must bribe police and their bribes reflect the size of their casinos and their number of customers. Some gambling dens even operate with catering and waiters.
"Gambling dens at markets in Don Muang, Bang Khen and Saphan Mai areas receive mainly vendors, general people, housewives and retired government officials," the source said. "They are medium-sized gambling dens and bet sizes are six-digit."
Casinos in inner areas in Phaya Thai and Ratchathewi districts are big and occupy whole buildings.
Well-known casinos that police have searched include that of Jeh Phlia Kingphet, while access to the Tao Pun casino in Bang Sue is difficult.
The source said there are 30-40 medium and large-scale casinos in Bangkok which cannot be suppressed.
This is not because they are unknown but because bribes reach officers at all levels and senior officers in respective areas share bribes with their subordinates, according to the source. A casino owner said bribes went to administrators, soldiers and police officers depending on which parties were influential in respective areas. Bribes for police reach commissioners and station chiefs in Bangkok and regional chiefs and station chiefs in other provinces.
The source said there was no genuine attempt to suppress these businesses.
"A big casino in the Thon Buri area belongs to a man in power who plans to attack [his competitors] with an anti-casino campaign," the source said.
Such campaigns are short-lived and fizzle out when political interest fades. The gambling dens then resume business as usual, the source said
(Source: Bangkok Post, ILLEGAL CASINOS, Academic makes case for legalised gambling, SPECIAL REPORT: Study suggests wiping out the industry is impossible, so it is better to regulate and control it, 31/08/2011, King-oua Laohong, link)
Illegal Gambling Vocabulary
gambling - the activity of betting money, for example in a game or on a horse race การพนัน
gambling dens - hidden places where people gamble illegally
dens - same as "gambling dens"
secret gambling dens
permanent - happening or existing for a long time or for all time in the future ถาวร
permanent casinos - casinos that are permanent at a place (do not move around to avoid detection = "mobile casinos")
lucrative - profitable, can get you a lot of money, earning a lot of money ที่มีกำไรงาม
profit - money that you make from selling goods and services after all your costs have been paid กำไร
bribes (noun) - money given to someone to get them to do a favour for you (usually illegal or against the rules) สินบน
bribe (verb) - to give money or presents to someone so that they will help you by doing something dishonest or illegal สินบน ติดสินบน
share - let other people have some of what you have; to have or use something at the same time as someone else ใช้ร่วมกัน
senior officers in respective areas share bribes with their subordinates
illicit - against the law ผิดกฎหมาย
illicit business - a business that is against the law (example: selling drugs, prostitution)
annually - happening every year ทุกๆปีด
200 billion baht changes hands in Bangkok dens annually - Bangkok gambling dens make 200 billion baht each year (revenue)
illegal - against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
illegal gains - money made by breaking the law
suppress - stop using police or military force or strict laws ปราบ, ปราบปราม
suppress illegal businesses - stop illegal businesses using police or military force
campaigns - 1. a long series of events staged to achieve a goal or to promote something (for example, an "anti-smoking campaign"); 2. a planned group of especially political, business or military activities which are intended to achieve a particular aim การรณรงค์
anti-casino campaign - a group of activities that to shut casino campaigns (sometimes only for a short time for show)
temporarily - only for a limited time; not permanent ชั่วคราว
close temporarily - close only for a short period of time
fizzle out - when something that began with great energy, just ends slowly without anyone even noticing (when the public gets bored with it)
campaign fizzles out - when the campaign slowly ends (after the public grows bored with it)
flex muscle - 1. move your muscle (showing how big and strong it is), 2. do something to show others how strong you are
authorities publicly flex their muscles - the government and police do something to show that they are strong (and can control events)
authorities - government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
make case for - persuade and convince others that some possible action is good (using evidence, facts, anaylsis and argument and good evidence)
concluded - after looking closely at and evaluating some situation, making some judgement or statement about the situation
regulate - to control an activity officially by using rules ควบคุม
inevitable - will happen in the future, for sure; unavoidable; certain to happen ที่เลี่ยงไม่ได้ ซึ่งหลีกเลี่ยงไม่ได้
respected - admired by many people for your qualities or achievements ที่เคารพ
academic - someone who teaches at a college, or who studies as part of their job นักวิชาการ
research - studying something and trying to discover or uncover facts about it วิจัย
revealed - made known or showed somthing that was surprising or that was previously secret เปิดเผย
research revealed - research showed (some facts that we did not know before)
proposed - suggested to, presented as a possible project (but not yet chosen or decided upon)
interests - connections that you may benefit from, therefore affects your attitude to it and the way you deal with it
vested interests - people who gain or lose depending on how events turn out business interests
moment - a very short period of time; a particular time or occasionชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ
source - someone who gives information (to newpapers and other media, for example) แหล่งข่าว
X caters to Y - service X is designed and made to make customer group Y happy
cater exclusively to rich gamblers - serve only rich gamblers
catering - the job or organising the food and drinks for an event such as a party or meeting การจัดเลี้ยง (See Wikipedia)
reflect - to show สะท้อน แสดงถึง
vendors - people who sell things from a small stall, cart, or store พ่อค้า พ่อค้าแม่่ค้าหาบแร่แผงลอย
retired - no longer working because you have reached the age where you are officially too old to work เกษียณอายุ
digit - any one of the ten numbers 0 to 9 ตัวเลข (0 ถึง 9)
bet sizes are six-digit - money gambled in casino (bets) are greater than 100,000 baht (100,000 has "six digits") (example: The woman in the big office has a six digit salary)
occupy - to fill, exist in, or use a place or period of time; to work or live on a piece of land ครอง, อาศัยอยู่ใน, ครอบครอง
occupy whole buildings - fills a whole building
access - the possibility of entering a place ทางเข้า
difficult access - difficult to enter; difficult to get into the place
scale - size (relative size)
large-scale - large sized (compared to others)
officers - police officers
senior officers - very high level powerful police officers
subordinates - people who work under a person (staff who work for a person; who report to a person)
parties - political parties
influential - powerful; can control events because they are powerful ที่มีอิทธิพลต่อ
influential party in an area - a political party that has political influence in an area
commissioner - a high level official in the police department
station - police station
station chiefs - the police officer who manages a police station
genuine - real; honest; sincere
no genuine attempt - did not really, honestly, sincerely try to do something (was actually a show)
a man in power - a politician who is in a government position of power (and thus can control events)
interest - payments made for the use of another's money for a period of time
resume - start again after stopping (ธุรกิจ) ที่ฟื้นตัวอีกครั้ง
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