On his weekly talk show, the Prime Minister of Thailand, in response to a question on gambling, stated that if the current government remains in place for at least four years, the Thaïs will see a casino in their country.
There has been talk about building a casino in Thailand since 1997. Back then, the Interior Minister supported the idea but it didn’t get very far.
In the year 2000, the Bangkok mayor thought it would be a good idea to put a casino in Bangkok, Pattaya, or Phuket.
Then, in 2002, the Thai government went so far as to commission a study conducted by Chulalongkorn University. Again, nothing much happened.
The Tourism and Sports Minister, in 2003, tried his hand at convincing the Thai people that a casino in Pattaya would be good for tourism, but his proposal didn’t go far.
Later in 2003, under the former Prime Minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, again a proposal was made for an entertainment complex be built in Chon Buri (Pattaya) and the complex would include a casino.
Public hearings were conducted in 2005 on establishing casinos in Thailand, and yet again, the voice of the people said “No.”
In March, 2008, the current Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej, vowed to make gambling legal during his current term of office.
There is still a long, uphill battle to opening a casino in Thailand. Mr. Samak will have to his best to convince the Thai people that this is in their best interest and will fund educational programs and promote tourism in the country.
There will be many opponents who will argue against legalized gambling saying that it will harm the young people of Thailand.
With a new Prime Minister calling the shots, and the former, deposed Prime Minister back in Bangkok, this latest chapter in the Thailand gambling annals may have a happy ending.
Prime Minister Samak is also hoping that legal gambling will help in shutting down all of the illegal gambling dens throughout the country. Catering to tourists with pockets full of money, and depriving the local populace, will be an interesting juggling act.
If the Prime Minister can convince the Thai people that now is the time for legalized gambling in Thailand, you can be sure that story after story about corruption will abound in the Thailand newspapers. Good luck, Mr. Samak, when rolling the dice. You will need it.