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Business News/ News / Thailand Can Lift Tourism Revenue by Legalizing Casinos, Study Says
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Thailand Can Lift Tourism Revenue by Legalizing Casinos, Study Says

Thailand can lift tourism revenue by about $12 billion by legalizing casinos housed within large entertainment complexes and tackle chronic illegal gambling, according to a study.

Thailand Can Lift Tourism Revenue by Legalizing Casinos, Study SaysPremium
Thailand Can Lift Tourism Revenue by Legalizing Casinos, Study Says

(Bloomberg) -- Thailand can lift tourism revenue by about $12 billion by legalizing casinos housed within large entertainment complexes and tackle chronic illegal gambling, according to a study.

Average tourist spending may surge 52% to 65,050 baht ($1,790) per trip once the entertainment hubs are built, netting an additional earnings of as much as 448.8 billion baht, according to a study by a panel of lawmakers that’s due to be submitted to parliament on Thursday. The extra income generated can bolster the country’s gross domestic product growth by 1.16 percentage points, it said.

The report may prompt the House of Representatives to push ahead with a bill to legalize casinos and other forms of gambling. The panel of lawmakers headed by Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat has recommended a number of safeguards to prevent Thais from getting addicted to betting.

With Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who has been aggressively pushing policies to attract foreign direct investment, backing the move, it may clear parliamentary hurdles with relative ease. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and MGM Resorts International have been studying potential opening of casino resorts in Thailand as a hedge against uncertain prospects in Macau.

Thailand’s planned entertainment complexes in designated areas will not only house casinos but also five-star hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions, Julapun said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“The goal is to establish a comprehensive entertainment venue and to promote tourism in a new way to increase income for the country and solve the problem of illegal gambling," Julapun said.

The Southeast Asian country, already a major draw among tourists for its pristine beaches, Buddhist temples and national parks, has a target to more than double foreign tourist arrivals to 80 million by 2027. The industry contributes about 12% to the nation’s $500 billion economy.

The fast-growing global fun economy industry is worth about $13.7 trillion with the integrated entertainment venue business forecast to grow to $2.2 trillion in four years from $1.5 trillion in 2022, Julapun said. Thailand can earn billions of dollars in taxes and tourism revenue if it successfully builds such facilities, he said, citing examples of other Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Though most types of betting is illegal in Thailand — a majority Buddhist and conservative society — any opening of casinos will be in line with its recent embrace of a more liberal landscape to revive its tourism industry from the pandemic blow. In 2022, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis though it’s now moving to ban its recreational use, and is set to become the first in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriages.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 27 Mar 2024, 06:21 AM IST
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