Thailand’s 1935 Gambling Act forbids betting activities except in horse racing and lottery; but reports say that about 60 to 70% in the country still gamble. Many do so in underground casinos, others in private clubs or sessions, while some others place bets with unlicensed sportsbook operators. While most Thailanders own a smartphone or a laptop, many are now gambling in online casinos and sports betting websites.
Thailand’s Gambling Roots
Historically, gambling is deeply embedded in Thai culture. During the reign of Nangklao, popularly known as King Rama III of the House of Chakri from 1824 to 1851, gambling was not prohibited, but instead promoted. Mainly because gambling dens posed as lucrative sources of revenues for the monarchial government.
When Thailand became a constitutional monarchy as a result of the 1932 Revolution, gambling was still legal by virtue of an existing 1930 policy. However, in 1935, majority of the lawmakers in Thailand’s parliament voted to pass a Gambling Act that would prohibit gambling in the country, to effectively replace the 1930 gambling policy.
Since then, many Thai gamblers went to border towns between Thailand and Malaysia, Cambodia or Myanmar. There, the more affluent Thai gamblers can engage in gambling at informal casinos without fear of getting caught in raids, whenever Thai police forces swoop down on underground casinos.
Globalization Calls for New Gambling Laws
In recent years, when online gambling became a well-established and regulated global industry, many คาสิโนออนไลน์ (online casino) and sportsbook operators expanded their gambling business by making their platforms accessible in Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand. Since online gambling websites are licensed and supervised by various international regulatory bodies located in different regions, gambling online became the most popular method of gambling among Thailanders.
Like other Southeast Asian countries, Thailand remains adamant in prohibiting citizens to gamble online. Notwithstanding that technological advancements have made it possible to transform online gambling platforms into safe, secure and strictly-supervised gambling sites. Moreover, well-established Gambling Commissions or Regulatory Bodies are in place to make sure that licensed online casino and sportsbook operators are compliant with international anti-money laundering laws (AMLA) and responsible gaming and advertising policies.
The greater benefit is that Asian governments like Thailand, can impose and collect taxes on both local and foreigh-based online gambling operators, as well as on winnings collected by online casino players and sportsbook bettors.