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Thailand Online Casinos

ThailandThe Southeast Asian nation of Thailand was once known as Siam, and is probably best known to the Western world for its capital city of Bangkok. It is a land of both incredible stability and sudden change in its government: while King Bhumibol Adulyadej has been ruling for nearly 70 years as of 2016, a 2014 coup saw a military junta take over the government, dissolving most of the nation’s existing constitution.

These changes make it difficult to predict the long-term future of gambling in Thailand, since it is difficult to be certain exactly how laws could change or how long the current government will maintain legitimacy. What is certain is that betting in Thailand has largely been frowned upon, and only a select few types of gaming have been approved over the years here. On the other hand, many foreign online casino sites accept Thai players and have continued to offer their games here despite the uncertain environment.

Online Betting Popular, But Unregulated

The government has shown very little interest in regulating any form of gambling online in Thailand. However, in spite of this, it still remains popular among the people here. There are several kinds of Internet sites that get frequented here, all of them operating despite the widespread ban on such activities in the country.

Some of these sites are offered by the same casinos in neighboring countries that gamblers from Thailand often frequent. However, there are also plenty of foreign online gaming sites, from bookmakers to poker rooms and casinos, that cater to the Thai market. These websites are most popular with educated, English-speaking users, who can look for sites that may be based in locations in the United Kingdom or the Philippines. However, there are also plenty of online casinos in Thailand that offer Thai language and real money games in Baht.

Given the lack of regulation here, there are some companies that choose to stay out of the market. However, many top developers and operators offer their games here, giving users a good variety of options when it comes to finding reputable, fun, and safe places to play for real money. Looking around, you’ll find games from companies such as:

  • Playtecj
  • Betsoft
  • Play‘n Go
  • Microgaming
  • NetEnt

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Few Betting Options Authorized

Gambling is a very popular pastime in Thailand, with some local experts suggesting that perhaps 70% of adults in the country enjoy placing bets from time to time. However, most of this activity is illegal, as there are very few government-authorized options available for gamblers.

One popular option that is offered is horse racing. The Royal Turf Club in Bangkok regularly hosts races, and parimutuel betting is allowed here, with many citizens in the city coming out to the occasional public race days. There are also more intimate gatherings for members of high society, who enjoy racing through private clubs.

Perhaps the most popular legal way to gamble in the country is the National Lottery. First held in 1974, the lottery continues to this day, being drawn on the first and 16th day of each month. The lottery has some rather interesting aspects to it, not the least of which is that ticket prices vary depending on where you buy them: while all vendors charge some level of markup over the face value, exactly how much you pay depends on where you buy them. You might even get a discount on numbers that aren’t considered particularly lucky. Many locals spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to find lucky numbers to play in each drawing.

Outside of these offerings, however, all other forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand. There are no casinos, even as many of the other nations in the area have opened up facilities that are at least available to foreigners. In fact, many Thai gamblers take advantage of this, playing in venues in countries including Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Not surprisingly, this situation also leads to plenty of illegal gambling in the country. Underground lotteries are quite common: while these contests can’t offer the big jackpots of the official game, they do promise players better odds overall. Illegal sports betting and small “casinos” are common throughout the nation as well. Gambling raids by police are common, but they do little to stop the overall culture of lawless wagering.

New Rulers Offer Mixed Signals

What is the future of the gaming industry in Thailand? The answer to that question is unclear, and not just because of the general instability of the country’s political climate. Even among current officials, the answers you get on the potential for expansion in this area depend on who you listen to and how you interpret current events.

One of the stated goals of the 2014 coup was to crack down on corruption, and part of that was to be a determined effort to stamp out illegal gambling. Sure enough, officials have pushed back on gaming at times, though sometimes this has been more embarrassing for them than the people they have targeted.

For instance, 31 foreign individuals from nations such as the United Kingdom and Australia were arrested in February 2016 after they were “caught” playing bridge at a club in Pattaya. They were accused of gambling on the games, though the players claimed they were simply playing for points. Most of the players ultimately signed what they said were false confessions; after the international backlash, it was reported that the players were likely to avoid facing any charges.

Stories like that don’t paint a picture of a country on the brink of gaming expansion. However, some officials have suggested that even casinos aren’t off the table in the near future. Members of the National Reform Council and police chief Somyot Poompunmuang have expressed support for the idea, at least in some limited fashion. The proposal would see smaller, regional casinos that would only be open to foreigners or Thai citizens who lived outside of the local area and could meet a means-based test to enter.

Whether these proposals will go anywhere may ultimately be up to public opinion, as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha has said that the government currently has no particular agenda on the issue. Only time will tell if these venues come to fruition; if they do, it could be a first step towards regulated online gambling in Thailand as well, though that would probably come much further down the line.

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