A house panel will propose to the Thai government the establishment of five legal casinos, with revenues taxed at 30%, believing that it would help reduce problems with illegal gambling dens.

Pichet Chuamuangphan, the second vice-chairman of a house committee which studies the legalisation of entertainment complexes, said, after its meeting yesterday (Wednesday), that they have submitted their findings to the government to consider the establishment of legal casinos, one each in the north, northeast and central region, Greater Bangkok and the southern region. He said that such casinos would allow all forms of gambling, from traditional to online gambling.

Ideas for the legalisation of casinos to earn revenue, collect taxes from the complexes, as well as curb illegal casinos, slot machines and online gambling were discussed in parliament yesterday.  Pichet said a feasibility study will take a year and is based on business models of many countries including Singapore and Malaysia

The primary aim of having entertainment complexes in Thailand is to create jobs, attract foreign visitors and bring additional revenue to the country, he said.

Pichet also explained that, for the legal casinos, the government would allow concessions with the private sector, from which the government will collect 30% tax, including local maintenance tax which can be used for the maintenance of such venues.

Gamblers would need to be at least 20 years old to enter the legal casinos and provide their financial status before entering. Government officials would not be allowed to enter, unless they have permits.

He also said that the house committee has studied the legislation of casinos in various countries, such as in Singapore and Malaysia, methods which they will adapt to make them suitable for Thailand.

The house committee also looked into Section 4 of the Gambling Act and will propose that the government draft amended laws and requirements for the opening of legal casinos.

Pichet stated that the findings will be submitted to the government in a month’s time, and proposals made to the House of Representative by November.

With gambling currently being illegal in Thailand, there have been reports of numerous underground gambling dens in the country. This has often been raised by the Opposition during their parliamentary grilling of the government.

The casino in the border town of Poi Pet, Cambodia, is staffed by Thai nationals and is full of Thai patrons.