Make online casinos legal, parties urge

Make online casinos legal, parties urge

Time to boost ailing coffers, they say

Chutchawan Kong-u-dom
Chutchawan Kong-u-dom

The leader of the Thai Local Power Party, Chutchawan Kong-u-dom, on Wednesday led smaller parties in submitting a draft amendment to the Gambling Act allowing for the legalisation of casinos and online gambling.

Mr Chutchawan, widely known as "Chat Taopoon", and his party members along with 20 representatives of smaller parties submitted the draft amendment to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai through his political working group member Pongsri Tarapoom.

He said the draft amendment aimed to legalise online casinos to generate revenue in the country amid the economic downturn.

Mr Chutchawan said he is also setting his sights on online gambling and the duty-free business.

Kovit Puangngam, a party list-MP of the Thai Local Power Party, said legalisation of online casinos will enable authorities to collect taxes from the licence holders, as well as define punishments to impose on illegal casino operators.

Of tax revenue collected from licence holders including their application fees, 10% will be sent to the Ministry of Finance, while another 90% of taxes will fund state welfare initiatives including debt relief in the agricultural sector, student loans and occupational development, Mr Kovit said.

The country is expected to earn revenue from tax collection and application fees for online casinos of about 1.5 trillion baht, which could help boost the nation's coffers, Mr Kovit said.

In addition, the party proposed to operate a casino in each of Thailand's four regions in provinces most-visited by tourists, he said.

These casinos may help generate at least 400-600 billion baht each year, Mr Kovit said.

Apart from casinos, the party also will propose legalising underground lotteries from which the country could earn at least 150 billion baht each year, he said.

"The draft amendment to the Gambling Act to legalise casinos and underground lotteries is meant to generate income while the country faces massive national debt," he said.

Kobboon Tangsawatdikun, deputy spokesman for the party, acknowledged that young people access online gambling domestically and internationally, which is a worry.

However, legalisation of online casinos will allow for data checks of online players, which also can help prevent crimes associated with gambling activities, he said.

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