Panel touts a casino for each region

Panel touts a casino for each region

Thailand could accommodate five casinos -- one in each of its five regions -- according to the House committee studying the feasibility of opening such entertainment complexes.

Ideas for the legalisation of casinos to earn revenue, collect taxes from the complexes, as well as curb illegal casinos, slot machines and online gambling were discussed in parliament yesterday.

Pichet Chuamuangphan, second deputy chairman of the House committee, said the feasibility study will take a year and is based on business models of many countries including Singapore and Malaysia.

The primary aim of having entertainment complexes in Thailand is to create jobs, attract foreign visitors and bring additional revenue to the country, he said.

A plan to operate one casino in each of the country's five regions will be submitted to the government, he said.

In the North, the location could be Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai. In the central region, the targeted site is Pattaya.

In the South, Phuket, Phangnga or Krabi were seen as ideal spots. In the Northeast, the choices are Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani or Khon Kaen. The prime location is either in Bangkok or one of its adjacent provinces, he said.

Mr Pichet said the government would grant a concession for each facility to a private firm to invest in. The government expects to collect 30% in taxes from each entertainment complex, he said.

Regarding clientele, the committee suggests they must be at least 20 years old and be of good financial standing to gamble. State officials would not be allowed to enter such places unless they hold a valid permit.

The House committee believes the plan would help curb illegal gambling and other criminal activities, Mr Pichet said.

After studying Section 4 of the Gambling Act, the House Committee will propose that the government issue regulations regarding the opening of such complexes.

The proposal will be submitted to the House by November, he said.

Lawmakers approved a proposal to set up a casino-entertainment complex in December.

The panel was then established to look into the feasibility of the project, with five sub-committees established to study the issue.

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