betting and casinos in Thailand

Betting in Thailand: Legality and Issues


Several people find entertainment in betting, as well as in other forms of gambling. However, in most countries in Asia, including Thailand, gambling is largely frowned upon. In Thailand, the only form of gambling allowed is horse racing and lottery. All other forms of betting are already considered illegal unless a special permit is secured from the government. This article digs down deeper into the legality and issues of betting in Thailand.

Gambling Laws in Thailand

Thailand’s Gambling Act, B.E. 2478 (1935) is the primary law that encompasses gambling activities in the country. It includes 46 ministerial regulations, 16 legal opinions of the Council of State, as well as a Royal Decree. Under this law, gambling activities are categorized into two different lists. The first list includes bets on animal games like dog fights and cockfights, as well as casino games like slot machines, poker, and roulette. On the other hand, the second list includes all other forms of gambling. Overall, it stipulates the only forms of betting that Thai residents can engage in.

thai gambling laws

Aside from this law, however, there are other laws related to gambling as well such as the Playing Cards Act, B.E. 2486 (1943), and the Anti-Money Laundering Act, B.E. 2542 (1999). Under the former, owning, manufacturing, or selling playing cards are all considered a crime. Locals are not allowed to own more than 120 playing cards that are not registered with the Excise Department of the country. It also states that any competent official may search private property in search of any illegal or unregistered playing cards. On the other hand, the Anti-Money Laundering Act strengthens Thailand’s gambling law further.

Brick and Mortar Casinos

While it is true that betting and gambling activities are illegal in the country, there are still various land-based casinos all over the nation. But keep in mind that all of these are operating illegally. Nevertheless, some of the most popular casino locations include basement offices, as well as upscale apartments in the major cities in the country. There are also illegal casinos in bars and some internet cafes. You will also find some village casinos where the locals play in someone’s home.

Perhaps the reason why gambling is still rampant in the country despite it being illegal is that casinos are still widely available in Thailand’s neighboring countries such as Laos or Cambodia. Cambodia is the home to the famous Crown Casino that offers odds on nearly all football matches. This is one of the casinos that welcomes Thai gamblers regularly. Some Thai locals also fly to Malaysia or Singapore, or even to Macau to enjoy the ultimate casino experience.

Online Betting

While gambling is largely illegal in the country, playing in online casinos still falls on a gray area. The gambling laws enacted upon the country are mostly implemented for traditional land-based casinos, as well as the physical form of betting. It can be quite difficult to run after users who are accessing the sites in the comfort of their own homes. In addition to this, most of those who venture into online gambling activities access websites based abroad. This is the reason why several users continuously play online casino games without any problem.

Just keep in mind that when you access online casino sites in the country, you are still exposing yourself to a certain risk. Perhaps not under the law, but unregistered websites. In this case, your wins may not be guaranteed or when your payout is forfeited, there is no regulating body that you can report to.

For this reason, make sure to exert the extra effort to research before you leverage any online casino site in the country. The casino enthusiasts behind lists down some of the best Thai casinos that you can consider. You may be surprised to find that there are licensed casinos on the list, but the regulating bodies that provided the licenses are not from Thailand, but from gaming commissions in other countries such as Gibraltar Gaming License, Gambling Commission UK, Malta Gaming Authority, and Curacao E-Gaming to name a few. To ensure that the website is fair and adheres to the standards, go for those that are licensed accordingly.

Legal Gambling Activities in Thailand

The only two gambling activities which are considered legal in the country are horse races, as well as lottery. The former is not as popular as the lottery because it is often reserved for the members of high society. On the other hand, the latter is very popular with the masses because it is largely accessible, with the country having several lottery vendors on its streets and villages. Only 60% of the winnings go to the bettor because 28% of the sales go straight to the government as revenue, while the remaining 12% of the proceeds are allotted for the management and administration. From time to time, the government also allows betting on Muay Thai fights, as long as it is conducted in permitted locations.

Gambling Punishment

When you are caught gambling in the country, you may pay a fine of anywhere between 1,000 and 5,000 Baht, depending on the severity of your gambling activity. Alongside this, you can also face imprisonment of anywhere between one to three years. The organizers of the gambling activities tend to get harsher penalties compared to those who merely participated.

gambling in Thailand

In case you are caught gambling online, the same penalties will be imposed, although there are fewer individuals caught for online gambling activities. Just keep in mind that Thailand’s gambling laws are also applicable to foreigners. In this case, they can either be thrown in jail and pay a fine or deported back to their countries.

When you are in Thailand, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations in the country to ensure that you don’t get in trouble with the law, particularly when it comes to betting or gambling. While it is largely illegal to gamble in the country, you still have the option of accessing online sites for your entertainment. Just keep in mind to go for online gambling sites that are licensed by regulating bodies to ensure your safety and security while playing.

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