Generally speaking, all kinds of gambling are illegal in Thailand. When the question is asked whether there are casinos in Thailand or not, the government and the police will say that there is none. However, the answer may vary when asked to local people. Contrary to the explicit prohibition, it is well known that casinos, including all types of gambling, can be found in every corner of Thailand. This sparks criticism of law enforcement and the chronic problem like corruption and bribery to the officials to operate gambling establishments. Thereby, there has been an argument of whether Thailand should legalize gambling or not. The following topics will identify how gambling is prohibited in Thailand and the pros and cons of legalizing it.
How gambling is being prohibited in Thailand
The prohibition of gambling is governed by Gambling Act 1935. In the view of the law, gambling needs ’a game’ to begin with, and that game would cause people to gamble to acquire money or other possessions upon the result of the game. This Act forbids organizing or participating in ‘games’ that generally come with gambling by its nature or by custom. If a person organizes a game whose nature is for gambling money or other possessions, that person will be presumed to have organized it for his benefit. If that person ‘plays’ the game himself, he will be presumed to have gambled. So, apart from banning the ‘games’, the Act also prohibits gambling itself. The types of games mentioned are stipulated in List A (27 games) and List B (28 games) of the Act. List A games (e.g., pool, high-low, baccarat, games involving animal torture, etc.) is the list of strictly prohibited games. No permission from officials can be issued. The only exception which can be made is through the government’s consideration issued by a royal decree. List B games (e.g., games in which animals are put to fight or to race such as cockfight, boxing/wrestling, boat racing, bingo, lottery, etc.), on the other hand, can be permitted upon the license by officials when considered appropriate. Violation of this Act entails a fine, imprisonment, or both.
Advantages of legalizing gambling.
Legalizing gambling has been brought up repeatedly to people’s attention—the supporters of this legalization claim that it would bring a significant amount of income to the country. Nowadays, casinos can be operated through bribes to exercise without police intervention. Therefore, those who can operate casinos are often business tycoons or mafia with enough money and influence to keep the business going. It is a win-win situation for those perpetrators but a complete loss to society when corruption persists and worsens. A large sum of money goes only to the gambling operator. So, it is said that by legalizing and supervising gambling, the government can effectively manage casinos or gambling activities. They can collect taxes from those gambling establishments, not to mention foreign investments and tourism’s potential attraction. The country would benefit significantly in aspects of the economy like in the UK or Singapore, which, in 2019, has collected tax from casinos and online gambling of 1,344 million GBP and 2000 million USD, respectively. Corruption and bribery would also increase upon legalization as there will be no need to engage in that unlawful manner to keep the business that brings a lot of income to the country.
Disadvantages of legalizing gambling.
Despite numerous advantages from legalizing it, gambling also imposes many problems. Gambling addiction is one of the possible circumstances. Those who are addicted to gambling will find themselves in a challenging situation. The impulses and the abundance of casinos will lure those who have no control over the desire to gamble to acquire money in illegal means. The rising crime rates, money laundering, and many other possible illicit activities will occur due to addicted and compulsive gamblers. Money laundering is one of the points raised by many Thai scholars and politicians. It is the activity of returning the illegal money as clean money to the launderer as its purpose is to conceal the origins of that illicit money. The difficulty in keeping track of the money will rise, and on the other hand, the money laundering process can be done more efficiently than ever. According to the report, In Atlantic City, United States, a rise of 320 percent was recorded in the crime rate to illustrate its negative effect. Another possible impact of legalizing gambling is children’s arousing from the advertisement. Since Thailand is a Buddhism country, its good moral is Buddhism’s good moral. The children who saw the promotion of any form of gambling may become a gambler one day. Influencing those children’s addictive and compulsive behavior will become a distortion to society’s good moral and the good moral in terms of religion.
Countermeasure for legalizing gambling
There are still many countries that have legalized gambling, but how do they manage it? Gaming law is a widely adopted concept in some countries that legalized gambling. It is a set of rules and regulations from various law branches such as criminal, tort, contract, and even constitutional and administrative law. In the United States, gambling is closely monitored by a government agency called the Gambling Commission. The Commission has the authority to grant or deny licenses for gaming establishments, ownerships, and employees. The registration process’s difficulty is made to screen the applicant’s criminal records and any previous business relationship to reduce the risk of money laundering. A country such as Bangladesh also monitored casinos closely by using financial institutions to prevent laundering. This method requires the casino’s cash department to notify the institution when suspicious or significant amounts of money entered the casino. The proper documents and financial documents are needed to be declared for a large number of funds transferred.
It can be said the view of legalizing gambling is very controversial. Legalizing it has many advantages, but at the same time, many consequences followed. Even if legalizing gambling will lead to the rise in the Thai economy, there are still unavoidable consequences of rising crime rates and compulsive gamblers. In some instances, this consequence is controllable if the law enforcement is strong enough to regulate the gambling system. Nonetheless, many countries have shown successful countermeasures for legalizing gambling.