Last August 31, Minister of Parliament Mongkolkit Suksintharanon of the Thai Civilised Party made a call for the legalization of online gambling in Thailand. A week later, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, instructed the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) to coordinate with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, in ordering all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile network operators to deny access to all online gambling websites such as online casinos, sportsbooks and similar Internet-based gambling portals.
According to Anucha Burapachaisri, the official spokesperson for the government, a total of 1,202 online gambling websites have already been identified. Through court orders, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Communication is set to make Thai ISPs and mobile network operators comply with the Thai PM’s new directive within 15 days. Otherwise, the said providers will be charged for violating the country’s Computer Crime Act.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also wants the MDES to coordinate with police authorities in enforcing anti-gambling laws, including gambling advertisements and gambling-related activities that aim to attract Thailand’s young people.
About MP Suksintharanon’s Push for Legalization of Online Gambling
Actually, MP Suksintharanon’s recommendation for the legalization of online gambling in Thailand was an aside to his recommendation for the government to build its own Entertainment Complex. The project would include the construction of a casino as among the attractions of the complex, in addition to a hotel and a theme park. The MP also proposes that the complex should be built in any of the country’s top destination spots like Bangkok or Phuket.
In speaking to the press, MP Suksintharanon explained that even while gambling is not legal in Thailand, gambling websites continue to offer sports betting products, คาสิโนออนไลน์ or online casino games and other gambling opportunities. All of which goes without any taxation involved, since the Thai Revenue Department does not have any clear laws to follow as guidelines.
Since Thailand’s coffers are currently suffering from lack of export and tourism revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MP Suksintharanon is pushing for the legalization of online gambling. He contends that the Thai government can collect yearly taxes amounting to as much as THB 5 to 6 billion from igaming and sportsbook operators.
However, both the MP’s entertainment complex and the online gambling legalization recommendations are in a bind because he has recently been implicated in a corruption scandal. A leaked audio recording of a conversation has been made public, in which the MP can be heard asking for a THB 12 million bribe money. According to local reports, the money is in exchange for MP Suksintharanon’s cooperation in keeping secret a deal between a CCTV company and Thai schools.