PM Srettha touts plans for casinos, nuclear power
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PM Srettha touts plans for casinos, nuclear power

Underground gambling should be solved by legalising, according to Srettha

File photo
File photo

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Saturday used his first monthly television address as the country's leader to promote plans for legalising casinos to curb illegal gambling and building a nuclear power plant to reduce electricity costs.

Casinos would bring gambling businesses under the government’s control, while a nuclear power plant would ease public dissent over high energy bills because of its lower generation costs, Mr Srettha said in the recorded TV program. 

"We have to admit that underground gambling is a serious problem and should be solved by legalising," Mr Srettha said. "Nuclear power will need time to educate people because most do not want the plant in their neighbourhood."

A majority of the 500-member House of Representatives in March backed a study by a panel of lawmakers that favoured the setting up of legalised casinos within large entertainment venues to attract high-spending tourists. It is estimated that the integrated entertainment complexes will help generate total tax revenue of 12 billion baht (US$327 million) in the first year of operations, according to the government.

The Finance Ministry plans to propose a draft bill to the cabinet within three to four weeks seeking to legalise the gambling establishments, according to Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat. The ministry has collected views from 16 related agencies, all of which agreed the casino complexes will boost the nation’s economic growth, he told the media on Wednesday.

Though most types of betting are illegal in Thailand — a majority Buddhist society — any opening of casinos will be in line with its recent embrace of a more liberal landscape to revive its tourism industry from the coronavirus pandemic blow. In 2022, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalise cannabis though it is now moving to ban its recreational use. It also became the first in Southeast Asia to legalise same-sex marriages after the senate last week approved the legislation.

Nuclear power would also help Thailand achieve its net zero carbon emission pledge, Mr Srettha said last month.

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