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Indian Casino, Politicians Allegedly Linked to Illegal Gambling Den, Bribes in Thailand

May 3, 2023 IndiaThailand Crime & Legal

Thai police this week arrested more than 80 Indian tourists during a raid on an illegal casino operating in the conference hall of a luxury hotel in Pattaya.
Police in the eastern province of Chonburi said they swooped in on the establishment following a tip-off from the public that the venue was being used as a gambling den.

Chonburi police chief Kampol Leelapraphaporn said 93 suspects – 83 Indians, six Thais and four Myanmar nationals – were collared in the predawn operation on Monday.

Several gambling tables, chips and cards, CCTV cameras, smartphones and wads of Indian currency were also seized. Police believe millions of rupees were circulated in the casino, which prevented hotel staff from entering the room.

A Thai suspect told police she ran the gambling business at the rented facility that charged the Indian bettors 50,000 baht (US$1,460) each for their lodging, food, flights and transport, the Bangkok Post reported.

She said the gambling equipment came from India. A prominent Indian casino junket operator, his aide and some politicians were among the suspects snared, Indian media reported.

Thai police also said they were investigating claims that government officials had known the casino’s existence but turned a blind eye after taking 2 million baht in bribes, adding that the club also allegedly employed undocumented migrant workers.

Pattaya police chief Thanapong Phothi promised to take legal action against the officials if they were found guilty. The suspects will remain in custody as investigation continues.

Gambling is illegal in Thailand except for the national lottery and horse races. Those found violating the Gambling Act could face two years in prison, a fine of up to 20,000 baht, or both.

Last year, a parliamentary panel recommended the government issue a decree allowing “entertainment complexes” that include legal casinos to be built in key cities across the country to revive the kingdom’s tourism-reliant economy.

The blueprint, if adopted, could help Thailand generate billions of dollars from foreign investors, travellers and Thai gamblers – who would otherwise spend gaming money in neighbouring countries, according to the committee.

The proposal, which stipulates a minimum 30 per cent tax on casino operators’ revenue, said Thais who are at least 20 and have a minimum 500,000 baht in bank accounts would be allowed to gamble.

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