Thailand crackdown on casino operators: what’s going on and why

Thailand’s government is cracking down on casino operators. Here’s what’s going on and why

For a couple of months now, there’s been a bit of hullabaloo in Thailand on the issue of online gambling. If you have been itching to know what it’s all about, here’s an article to let you in on what exactly has been going on.

Back in September, the Thai government, via the spokesperson for the office of the Prime Minister, ordered the ministry to block the hundreds of gambling websites in the country. The ministry was given the order to work in hand with Thai ISPs and mobile operators to block access to a total of about 1,202 websites, who could be facing charges for violating Thailand’s Computer Crime and Gambling Act, if they fail to heed this order.

This was followed by the government issuing several formal complaints against social media giants, Facebook and Twitter, for allegedly not complying with court rulings on the order to block contents containing online gambling, pornography, inappropriate profiling of the Thai monarch and illegal drugs, which are all forbidden under the nation’s Computing Crime Act.

The development took some citizens aback, as prior to the rampage on online gambling, The Thai prime minister had suggested that it was expedient to revisit the laws regarding gambling to probably permit land-based casino gambling as well as online operations. Another percentage of the population, however, was not taken by surprise based on very strict gambling laws that have existed in the country.

Thailand’s gambling act

While many countries around the world have revised their gambling laws following the developments of the online gaming industry, Thailand is not one of them. Thailand is still a country where gambling is prohibited. In fact, some would say Thailand has the strictest gambling laws as almost every form of gambling is prohibited. Although, Thailand’s Gambling Act, which was drafted dating back to the year 1935 permits government-run lotteries and horse-race betting. According to the Thailand constitution, anyone caught gambling illegally is to face a punishment of 1000 bahts fine and one-year imprisonment. Consequently, as citizens discovered they were at the risk of getting apprehended, fined, and jailed if caught physically gambling at locally situated gambling centers, they decided to seek a safer way to gamble.

Online gambling in Thailand today

While online casino and betting operators have not been able to establish an operation in Thailand, they have gradually made their way to Thai speaking gamblers around the world, including Thai citizens. Some would argue offshore gambling alternatives have emerged as a response to the urgent need the citizens have felt to have a safer space where they can engage in gambling activities. Others would say the big players of the gaming industry understand the potential value of the Thai gambling market and expect Thailand soon will have to follow the rest of the world and legalize online gambling.

These online platforms are developed to speak to the Thai speaking costumer but hosted overseas and managed by some of the largest operators in the world. Based on the Thai citizens’ reputation in both local and online gambling, these gambling sites are localized for Thais. This include attractive features to attract their patronage like making casino games and live streaming available in Thai, allowing financial transactions to be processed in Thai bahts using local banking methods and of course, staffed with a Thai speaking customer support.

By the look and services offered by these sites there isn’t much revealing they are actually hosted overseas and under what legal jurisdiction they operate. Parallel to these well established and licensed international operators, there is no lack of local non-regulated websites offering various types of money gambling on the internet. Without any supervision fair gaming can not be guaranteed putting the gambler at high risk.

As a result, third party websites like Thai Casino Center has emerged to help Thai gamblers to navigate between these online gambling alternatives and the country’s strong laws against gambling. There is no denying the Thai population enjoy gambling and football betting is very popular in Thailand. Regardless, the Thai government still wouldn’t allow its citizens to engage in gambling and its ICT department has been mandated to monitor both telephone and internet traffic to fish out illegal online gambling.

The outcome so far….

In September local news websites confirmed the prime minister of Thai stated a quite legitimate reason for the recent crackdown on online gambling in Thailand. He mentioned that administration has come to discover that because online websites are easy to access, a very large population of her citizens, particularly teenagers, are becoming addicted to gambling and now exhibit irresponsible and outrageous ways of spending. As a result, law enforcement agencies and Telecommunication firms have been working aggressively to apprehend defaulters. Just last month, the Thai police confirmed raiding the headquarters of 9 popular local gambling websites in the country, apprehending 4 operators and impounding properties worth millions of bahts. This development, however, is yet to significantly reduce land-based and locally operated online gambling in Thailand.

Gambling prospect in Thailand

Despite the efforts to make Thailand’s anti-gambling laws well-grounded, the government is yet to record a tangible reduction in gambling across the country. Gambling has been recorded to double year-on-year in Thailand despite the annual ban. Currently, despite the recent crackdown, citizens are now finding ways to avoid IP addresses being identified online via VPN. At this juncture, the government is probably faced with the dilemma of legalizing gambling, which is believed to bring massive revenue to the country’s economy, regulate VPN or find other strategies to curb and totally eradicate gambling in Thailand.