Casino project shapes up

Bangkok Post
Casino project shapes up
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Feasibility study to be deliberated by House

A report by a special House committee studying the feasibility of allowing an entertainment complex to be built that includes legal casinos is expected to be deliberated on Thursday, a member of the committee said on Tuesday.

Aimed at raising tax revenue from legalising gambling businesses in a yet-to-be-designated area, the project has been studied by the House committee since late last year, added the source, who declined to give their name.

If approved, the report will be forwarded to the government for consideration, the person said.

The entertainment complex will feature five-star hotels, shopping malls, beauty and spa parlours, amusement parks, zoos, indoor and outdoor sports stadiums and legal casinos, the source added, citing the study.

The casinos are expected to take up about 5% of the total space.

The formation of another committee tasked with regulating the complex was also proposed, with the prime minister suggested as the best figure to oversee it, the source said, adding the tentative budget was bigger than a similar project undertaken in Singapore.

Investment should jointly come from the public and private sector, and the complex should be declared a special administrative area similar to comparable projects in Macao and Singapore, the source said, citing the same report.

Bangkok, together with areas inside the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and those within a 100-kilometre radius of Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports, were reportedly named as the most suitable locations.

Any of 22 key tourism provinces were penned in as the second-best choice in terms of location, with the provinces of Phuket, Phangnga, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai given as a third option, said the source.

The House committee also included in its report findings from a public opinion survey carried out by Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, which showed that 80.7% of respondents approved of the project and 36.4% agreed it should include legal casinos.

Over 56% of respondents saw Bangkok and its neighbouring provinces inside the EEC as a prime location, according to the report.

The House committee proposed eight types of gambling activities that should be permitted, including online casinos, betting on the stock exchange index and foreign exchange rates, and betting on the results of international and local sporting events, including horse races.

Also, betting on key events such as election results, online bingo, betting on government lottery draw results, and wagering on the results of e-sports and online games like Baccarat, said the same source.

In order to facilitate the entertainment complex and its casinos, a new bill will be drafted to permit online gambling and related gaming businesses specifically for this project, said the source, adding the Ministry of Interior would have to amend its 1935 Gambling Act regarding the prohibition and regulation of online gambling.

The casinos would be open to foreigners and Thais, but the latter would have to be 21 years of age or older and able to prove they had 500,000 baht in their accounts for six months, said the source.

Any income that is earned from the casinos would be taxable, the source said.

Pada Vorakanon, a former Palang Pracharath Party MP for Bangkok and ex-member of the House committee, said the discussions are unlikely to win approval before the House's term ends on Feb 28.