Thai Finance Ministry to Lead Review of Casino Study

Posted on: April 17, 2024, 07:48h. 

Last updated on: April 18, 2024, 10:09h.

Thailand’s Ministry of Finance will run point in mulling a House of Representatives study that could pave the way for regulated casinos in the Southeast Asian country.

Doi Inthanon
An aerial view of part of Doi Inthanon National Park in Thailand. The country’s Finance Ministry will lead a 17-agency review of a casino gaming study. (Image: Location Scout)

The Finance Ministry is one of 17 government agencies involved in assessing the feasibility of bringing casino gaming to Thailand. In what was described as an “urgent letter” issued earlier this week by the Secretariat of the Cabinet, the Finance Ministry has a month to provide a report to the cabinet on the issue of casinos.

The other government entities participating in the review are the ministries of Tourism and Sports, Social Development and Human Security, Higher Education Science Research and Innovation, Agriculture and Cooperatives, Transport, Interior, Justice, Labor, Culture, Education, Public Health and Industry.

In a late March vote in which 253 of 257 members voted in favor of the measure, the Thai House of Representatives approved the idea of entertainment districts throughout the country with the expectation that some of those venues would include casinos.

Thai Casino Idea Gaining Momentum

The concept of Thailand becoming home to regulated gaming venues has gained momentum this year and with Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat and Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin supporting the effort, more regulatory clarity could emerge in the coming months.

Should the secretariat of the cabinet sign off on the findings of 17 agencies, the country would form a policy committee, led by Thavisin, to study the potential economic impact of casinos and related issues. Another committee would also be created, comprised of various agency leaders, to study a variety of topics related to the entertainment districts, including gaming.

Thailand’s efficiency in advancing the casino issue could capture the attention of major global gaming companies and could position the country to see its first gaming venue open before MGM Resorts International’s (NYSE: MGM) Osaka integrated resort. The first Japanese casino hotel is expected to open in 2030.

Thailand has good reasons to accelerate the creation of entertainment districts. Each venue would require a capital commitment of $2.75 billion, implying a boon for government coffers. Additionally, betting-enthused Thais continue going to neighboring Myanmar to wager despite the fact the country is in the midst of a civil war. Some policymakers hope that by bringing casinos to Thailand, locals will minimize gaming-related treks to other countries.

More Thai Casino Chatter

The House-approved study being considered by the Ministry of Finance and the 16 other agencies also calls for a 17% tax rate, which is likely to be viewed favorably by the gaming industry. The report also indicates gaming venues could boost Thailand’s GDP by as much as 1.16% annually.

There’s also a forecast that the entertainment districts, including casinos, could drive a 52% uptick in international tourism to Thailand — a country that depends heavily on foreign visitation to spur economic growth.

Maybank analysts recently estimated the country could approve as many as eight gaming licenses with hopes that some of the largest Asia- and US-based operators will bid on those permits.