Thailand Casino Legalization Talks Likely to Resume Only After 2023 General Election
- Casino legalization isn’t a big priority in Thailand now as the country focuses on the 2023 election
- Pattaya could become home to Thailand’s first legal casino
- The country is in a better position now to legalize casinos with public and bipartisan support
Casino legalization in Thailand will likely be put on the back burner for now as the country prepares for the 2023 general election. That’s according to Spectrum Asia CEO Paul Bromberg who said “there’s a lot to sort out politically” in the country before discussions on legalizing real money casinos in Thailand are reignited.
Bromberg made the statement during a speech at the 2022 MGS Summit, a gaming conference held online on November 16.
Casino Discussions on Hold as Election Looms
Bromberg said Thailand’s main focus right now is the upcoming election on May 2023 during which the Thai people will elect a new Prime Minister. The Thai political climate has been stormy with ongoing speculations incumbent PM Prayut Chan-o-cha could switch parties and join the newly formed Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party which was established in 2021. Dozens of MPs from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PRRP) could also follow suit, according to reports.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is considered a strong aspirant to succeed Prayut. She’s been topping opinion surveys in most of Thailand, especially in the central region.
The general election has overshadowed talks on casino legalization and things will remain this way until after May next year, Bromberg said.
Thai Casino Legalization Gains Public and Bipartisan Support
Under proposals by a parliamentary committee examining the feasibility of having legal casinos in Thailand, the government could approve up to five casino resorts throughout the country, one in each of the five regions. Proposed locations include Bangkok, Phuket, Phangnga or Krabi, Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and Ubon Ratchathani, Kohn Kaen, or Udon Thani.
While feasibility studies would still be required to figure out the best option, Bromberg said it’s highly likely that the country’s first casino will be built in Pattaya due to its close proximity to the airport and the numerous hotels already operating in the city. He also noted that “expectations have to be realistic” in terms of determining the right location for the casinos.
Bromberg said public sentiments on casino legalization have significantly improved in recent months, with surveys showing that the vast majority of the Thai population agree with the idea. Casino legalization has also gained real bipartisan support, putting Thailand in a much better position now to open its first legal casinos.