Over 80 Indian Tourists Busted In Thailand For Organizing Illegal Gambling Holiday
- Thai police arrested 83 Indian nationals, one of whom is currently being probed for money laundering
- They were caught engaging in illegal gambling at a makeshift casino at a hotel
- Casinos could be legalized in Thailand under new proposals announced in January
Dozens of Indian tourists were arrested in Thailand for illegal gambling. The arrests came after police raided a room at a hotel in Chon Buri province where the illegal activity took place. One of those arrested was Chikoti Praveen (pictured), a high-profile gambler who is currently under investigation in India for money laundering.
Tourists Caught Gambling at Makeshift Casino at Thai Hotel
Thai authorities conducted the raid at the Asia Pattaya Hotel on May 1, after learning that one of its rooms called “Sampao” was being used for gambling. The tourists, many of whom are from Hyderabad, India were caught playing baccarat and blackjack in the Sampao room. They were part of a gambling trip organized by a person from Thailand.
According to local news outlet Bangkok Post, the suspects attempted to flee when police stormed the room but they were all rounded up. Authorities held 93 people – 83 are Indian nationals, six are Thais, and four are from Myanmar. Of those arrested, 80 were Indian gamblers while the rest were organizers and staff who carried out the illegal activity.
Police confiscated gambling equipment, including four baccarat tables, three blackjack tables, three card dealer machines, as well as cards and chips. Mobile phones, notebook computers, CCTV cameras, and 160,000 Indian rupees were also seized.
The tourists had booked rooms at the hotel from April 27-May 1, meaning they may have been gambling for a few days already before the raid took place. The authorities alleged that more than 200 million Baht (500 million rupees) was gambled on a daily basis and these games were live-streamed to India. The organizer of the games named “Sitranan” admitted she was the one who rented the Sampao room and cleared the hotel of any involvement in the illegal activity.
Among those arrested was Praveen, a popular figure in the casino circuit known for organizing gambling activities in several countries such as Malaysia, Nepal, and Thailand. He is being investigated by India’s Enforcement Directorate over allegations of money laundering.
Thailand Looking into Report Proposing Casino Legalization
Casino gambling is currently illegal in Thailand, but the government is considering legalizing casinos to boost the country’s tourism sector which was heavily impacted by the pandemic.
In January, Thailand’s House of Representatives approved a report proposing the development of integrated resorts with casinos in multiple locations throughout the country, including the capital Bangkok. But that’s just the first step.
Lawmakers said casino legalization would involve a lengthy process and it would take at least three years for it to materialize.