Polls show gambling aversion

Polls show gambling aversion

Survey findings deal blow to casino hopes

Students organised an anti-gambling protest late last week after several National Reform Council (NRC) members and the national police chief came out in favour of establishing a casino at Pattaya. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
Students organised an anti-gambling protest late last week after several National Reform Council (NRC) members and the national police chief came out in favour of establishing a casino at Pattaya. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Fresh findings of two opinion polls may deal a blow to a proposal seeking to make gambling legal and enabling the government to collect a tax on casinos.

The results of the Suan Dusit Poll and Nida Poll surveys released yesterday show the majority of respondents disagree with legalising casinos due to concerns there are more risks than benefits.

Of the 1,363 people surveyed by Suan Dusit Poll during June 16-20, 45.1% of respondents said they were against the proposal.

Gambling addiction, debts, corruption and a rising crime rate were among their concerns.

The 38.6% of those respondents who favour legalising gambling said it can generate funds for development projects and create jobs.

The remaining 16.1% were undecided and said the issue needs more study.

Of the 1,501 people surveyed by Nida Poll during June 17-19, 55% of participants disagreed with the proposal due to the adverse effects of gambling.

The 37% who favoured the proposal argued illegal gambling dens were already rampant and it would be better to put them in order and tax them.

Of those in favour of legalising casinos, 36.5% suggested the government should legalise gambling activities and collect concession fees and taxes, while 27.1% said casinos should be owned and operated by the government only.

Last Friday, Bangkok University published similar poll findings, with 58.5% of 1,093 respondents disagreeing with legalising gambling versus 35.1% in favour of it.

Former Bangkok MP Chuvit Kamolvisit joined the chorus of dissent, writing on his Facebook page he doubted law enforcement was strong enough to keep "unwanted customers" away from casinos.

Some casino supporters have suggested customers should be screened to ensure only well-to-do people can gamble.

"Illegal gambling dens see hundreds or even thousands of people come and go, day in day out. Do you really think they can keep unwanted customers out?" the former massage parlour tycoon said.

Mr Chuvit also poured scorn on pro-casino claims that gambling was in the blood of the Thai people and that casinos would put illegal gambling dens out of business.

"The underground lottery thrives despite the government lottery. Why can't gambling dens? Gambling has no nationality and it is enjoyed by a wide range of people, even police," he said.

The proposal to legalise casinos has been floated by a group of 12 National Reform Council (NRC) members and backed by national police chief Somyot Poompunmuang and his predecessor, Social Development and Human Security Pol Gen Adul Sangsingkeo.

Jadet Chaowilai, director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, criticised Pol Gen Somyot and Pol Gen Adul for supporting the idea.

He said Pol Gen Somyot was the chief of the top law enforcement agency and he should wait until his retirement before pursuing this interest.

"The social welfare and human security minister is really a disappointment. It is his job to address the problems affecting human security. Instead he supports something exactly the opposite," he said.

Mr Jadet said gambling plays a large part in family violence. Gambling addicts threaten violence against family members, steal from their children and abandon their families, he said.

He said there were better things for these men to do than support casinos, adding it was a clear sign the police force urgently needs reform.

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