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Thailand’s Casino report wins cabinet endorsement

Thailand's Casino report wins cabinet endorsement

A special House committee report on legalising entertainment complexes with casinos in Thailand was endorsed by the cabinet on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Finance was also assigned to conduct an additional study on the feasibility of the investment, which must be done within 30 days.

Deputy government spokeswoman, Kenika Ounjit, said the entertainment complex project is one of the key elements in the government’s “fun economy” sector, which includes tourism, sports, entertainment venues and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) businesses.

She said the sector has been growing steadily and has already benefited the country’s economy.

Citing the House committee’s study report, Ms Kenika said the proposed entertainment complex scheme would likely help Thailand generate more tax revenue and consequently enable the government to help a wider range of people.

But public participation and public hearings will need to be conducted to decide whether the government should proceed with the proposed casino proposal, she said.

The cabinet also suggested the government should not be the sole investor in such a project, or else it could face new budgetary burdens. It is ideal to have joint investments with several private partners and grant them a concessionaire in exchange, she said.

Another suggestion from the cabinet was regarding the location of an entertainment complex. It should not be far from an international airport to cater to international visitors, she said.

Also, a “casino tax” should be created and imposed on the casino business, she said.

The cabinet also remarked that a specific government organisation should be set up to deal with possible negative impacts of the proposed entertainment complex, while a specific law should be passed for use to regulate this new business directly, Ms Kenika said.

The House committee’s report on the proposed casino legalisation was on Tuesday met with strong objections from a large group of university academics.

The group of academics, mainly from Chulalongkorn University, issued a statement warning that legalising casinos in Thailand could do more harm than good.

The academics said they did not agree with the House committee’s claim that legalising casinos is a part of the government’s economic stimulus efforts, saying gambling has never been recognised by economists as a business activity because it does not create any economic products.

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