Prayut slams lid on casino-legalisation talk

Prayut slams lid on casino-legalisation talk

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha takes questions from reporters at Government House on Wednesday during which he said he ordered the national police chief to end his casino campaign. (Photo by Thanarak Khunton)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha takes questions from reporters at Government House on Wednesday during which he said he ordered the national police chief to end his casino campaign. (Photo by Thanarak Khunton)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday slammed the lid on the idea of legalising casinos in Thailand and ordered the national police chief to stop talking about it.

For the first time, Gen Prayut made his position clear on the issue, saying he believed casinos were not supported by the public and therefore would not become legal during his time in office.

The prime minister said he ordered Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang on Wednesday to stop discussing the matter.

Having kept an eye on the debate since June 17 when the police chief embarked on a crusade to open casinos in Thailand, the prime minister said he had had enough of the talk by Pol Gen Somyot.

The police chief had argued that he supported casinos as a way to protect officers who lost their positions after illegal gambling dens were found in their jurisdictions, according to Gen Prayut. He acknowledged many clean officers were transferred to inactive posts during an investigation even though they reaped no benefit from the underground casinos.

Pol Gen Somyot wanted to explain his position in person to the prime minister, but they never met.

"Don't need to tell me. I have brains,'' said Gen Prayut on Tuesday, pointing to his head.

An attempt to push through casino legislation was engineered by the so-called Rak Chat group of 12 National Reform Council members, who cited revenue benefits from gambling.

Finance Minister Sompai Phasee supported the idea, but other cabinet members, including Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, and Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, opposed it.

NRC chairman Thienchay Kiranandana said the casino issue was not part of any reform plan.


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