Thai PM Pushes for Fast-Track Casino Regulations Amid Concerns from US Operators


Thai Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, is calling for swift action from policymakers and the Ministry of Finance in order to expedite the regulatory process for casinos in his country. His goal is to give the green light to various gaming establishments as soon as possible. However, certain market observers have voiced concerns that the strict nature of the country’s forthcoming regulations may dissuade key American operators from becoming involved in the Thai market.

Information recently divulged by The Bangkok Post suggests that five potential locations have been identified for Thailand’s pioneering venture into the gambling world. The projected sites include two within the bustling capital city of Bangkok, and one each in the Eastern Economic Corridor, Chiang Mai, and the popular tourist island of Phuket.

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The urgency conveyed by Prime Minister Thavisin reflects his ambition to outpace Japan in implementing an integrated resort system. If Thailand can approve casino gaming regulations in the near future, construction of the first gaming venue could commence posthaste. This could potentially allow Thailand to beat the assumed 2030 opening of MGM Osaka.

Rumors and speculation about Thailand’s emergence as a gaming hub have been proliferating over the past few years. Accompanying these whispers are suggestions about prominent gaming corporations who might be interested in doing business in this Southeast Asian nation. Notable names are surfacing, including Las Vegas stalwarts Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Resorts. Notably, these companies can already boast substantial presence in Asia through their operations in Macau. Sands also operates one of two integrated resorts in Singapore.

Still, there are analysts who project that the impending gaming regulations in Thailand may not appeal to these US operators. Seaport Research analyst Vitaly Umansky stated, “It’s too early in the process to determine if Wynn could eventually be involved, but currently, our perspective on Thailand is that the market may not be adequately prepared for US regulated operators to participate.”

While gaming companies have not publicly aired their concerns about the Thai market, industry insiders have suggested that Thailand’s regulatory environment could be more lenient than in areas where LVS, MGM, and Wynn presently conduct business.

In contrast to these worries, Thailand’s proposed gaming tax scheme might just be appealing enough to attract US-based gaming enterprises. Experts project that Thailand will levy a 17% tax on gross gaming revenue, mirroring the rate utilized by Singapore, and aligning competitively with Japan and South Korea.

While the exact number of entertainment centers to be granted approval is still undefined, it is evident that the lucrative casino sector could contribute significantly to economic growth in Thailand. The proposed investment for each entertainment district is projected to be a minimum of $2.75 billion, a figure comfortably within the reach of numerous international gaming powerhouses.

Whilst potential restrictions on the number of licenses issued vary widely, from a conservative five to a more ambitious twenty, it seems relatively improbable that twenty licensable entities would be solvent within the current Thai market structure.