A big game-changer and a big investor, Megaworld Corporation is spending P20 billion in San Lazaro Tourism and Business Park in Manila in the Philippines. They are building a modern casino resort which will be the next significant development in the gaming industry.
The government is attempting to boost foreign investment and tourism, which are essential for economic growth. It is expected that the proposed casino resort will create a large number of jobs and increase foreign travel to the Philippines. Moreover, it will help place the nation as a prominent player in the global gambling market, competing with gambling destinations like Macau and Las Vegas. But what about the Thai casino industry? How does the Philippines’ casino investment plan compare to Thailand’s own casino industry?
Thailand’s Stand on Gambling
As gambling is now largely prohibited in Thailand, there aren’t any licensed casinos operating on the market. The only exception is the Thailand state lottery and horse race betting, which are authorized by the government. Nevertheless, with the growing popularity of online gambling, players can still access Thai online casinos. The government is putting a lot of effort into advocating the development of legal casinos that may benefit the nation’s economy. However, a large proportion of the public is still worried about the possible social issues that could result from increased gaming.
Supporters argue that having legal casinos would bring significant economic benefits to the country, increase revenue and create job opportunities. It would also boost the existing tourism economy by offering visitors another sort of entertainment.
Those objecting to legalizing gambling argue that it presents a social risk as gambling addiction might cause financial and psychological issues for individuals and their families. Some people are also concerned that casinos might turn into a hotspot for criminal operations like money laundering and organized crime.
Casino Laws and Beliefs
The Playing Cards Act of 1943 and the Gambling Act of 1935 forbid casinos and gambling in Thailand. These regulations make it illegal to participate in or promote gambling activities and explicitly prohibit most games that include wagering. Another reason why casinos are outlawed in Thailand is the nation’s cultural and religious convictions. The nation’s most widely practiced religion Theravada Buddhism considers gambling as a sin that can cause addiction, loss of faith, and financial disaster.
Gambling Opportunities in Sight
Thailand is trying to use the Philippines’ experience with Integrated Resorts as a way to legalize casinos and other types of gambling in the near future. The initiative could potentially convince the public that a well-planned and controlled casino business can bring large investments, boost tourism and stimulate the economy.
The House of Representatives has already approved a proposal to build five resorts with integrated casinos in the next few years. They require additional research on the potential revenue for the country in order to make a final decision, but things are definitely moving in that direction.
The proposal states that 5% of the resort area will be reserved for an integrated casino, leaving a significant amount of space for additional amenities and attractions for tourists. These could include hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, wellness and fitness centers, theme parks, and other forms of entertainment.
The five most popular tourist cities in Thailand have been chosen as the perfect locations for the proposed developments. Bangkok and other seaside destinations will offer tourists more diverse entertainment that will include the services of a casino floor. Tourists and domestic citizens aged 21 and over will be permitted to enter the casino and participate in games of chance. Local players, however, will be subject to certain limitations and must present evidence of their financial stability along with sufficient funds in order to gamble.
The special House Committee that prepared the proposal also estimates that the integrated casino business will bring approximately $11bn of revenue if the tax is set at 30% for the operator. Other benefits include taxes collected from individual winnings and the additional positive impact they will have on the economy.
The integrated resorts will open new job opportunities that will help the local economy. They will attract more tourists and make them spend more money in the country. Most importantly, they will engage local players and prevent the outflow of funds to other countries.
Despite the numerous challenges posed by legalizing casinos and regulating the gambling market, Thailand is persevering to find a successful solution. It appears that the introduction of resorts with integrated casinos, offering a variety of entertainment, will open the industry up to domestic players and attract more tourists. The anticipated economic benefits and positive impact in the coming years are expected to be substantial.
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