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Thailand considers legalizing casino gambling as anti-COVID

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Thailand considers legalizing casino gambling as anti-COVID

Thailand’s government is finally considering relaxing its longstanding ban on casino gambling as a means of limiting further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Last week, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha authorized the formation of two committees: one to examine the role of human traffickers smuggling migrants into the country, the other to probe how local authorities are investigating cases of illegal gambling. 

Both committees are intended to find ways of limiting the further spread of COVID-19, the rates of which have doubled in the past month. Meanwhile, pandemic fears and quarantine requirements have decimated Thailand’s international tourism industry, with predictable effects on the government’s tax revenue. 

Police in Nonthaburi, Thailand’s second-largest city, raided an illegal gambling den last week, while police in the resort town of Pattaya raided another illegal gambling hub in a condominium complex. The gambling committee has been asked to probe whether police turned a blind eye to these and other gambling dens that operate with seeming impunity across the county. 

PM Prayut stated Friday that while his personal view of gambling isn’t favorable, it was time to discuss whether to legalize gambling in Thailand, saying all the enforcement in the world “will not be able to rid Thailand of illegal gambling dens.” Prayut’s view is shared by some opposition party leaders, who view legal casinos as a means of boosting the government’s depleted treasury. 

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