Thailand known as the ‘land of smiles’ is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia and one of the reasons why Sommai Phasee, Thailand’s finance minister wants the country’s military government to approve the licensing of casinos in Thailand. Earlier this month, the National Reform Council (NRC) in Thailand had also raised the issue of sanctioning casinos in the area and suggested that Pattaya would be an ideal destination for a Thai casino.

The finance minister supported the NRC and stated that casino resorts must be constructed in Thailand so that there is provision for entertainment complexes, shopping malls, convention centres and restaurants which would further promote tourism in Thailand. Families should be encouraged to visit these establishments and also provide gamblers a place to play their favorite table games.

Phasee stated that casinos could follow a similar model to Singapore and impose a $150 casino entrance fee on Thai’s and permanent residents. This was one way to discourage ‘poor people’ from entering the casino and permitting only those who were really interested in spending money inside the casino resort.

The finance minister said it was better for Thailand to construct their own casinos and allow Thai’s and tourists to gamble within Thailand instead of taking their business outside of Thailand. However Phasee did not agree with the concept of permitting casinos to be built all over Thailand and allowing gambling dens to function wherever they wish. The finance minister wants the industry to be carefully regulated so that the government has full control over the casino industry at all times.

There were reports that Phasee was playing an active role in facilitating a meeting between Las Vegas Sands Corp and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha but Phasee denied these reports. According to a recent article in the Bangkok Post newspaper, a total of 1093 Thai’s were surveyed to see if they were for or against having casinos in Thailand.

The survey which was conducted by the Bangkok University revealed that 58% were not in favor of having casinos in Thailand. Royal Thai Police chief General Somyot Poompanmoung trivialized these survey results by saying these numbers mean nothing as the number surveyed was extremely small and unless a national survey is conducted, one cannot get a true idea of what the Thai people actually want. The Police Chief also echoed the views of the finance minister by saying there were many illegal gambling dens on the Thai border that promoted gambling and it would be a lot better for these gamblers to visit Thai casinos and spend their money legally.