Thailand eyes casino windfall

Thailand, whose conservative Buddhist society has long been opposed to gambling, has again renewed the debate over legalizing casinos as the government eyes a potential boost to tax revenue and tourism numbers. The discussion comes amid signs the public view may be changing, with surveys pointing to growing support for legal casinos, which could generate more than $2.7 billion in annual tax revenue and boost foreign tourist arrivals by up to 50 percent, according to recent studies, backed by the Thai Excise Department. Debate has centered around whether casino gambling is acceptable and if so what models would be suitable to recapture funds lost through underground gambling and through locals travelling to neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. The latest initiative by the Thai military government, which came to power in 2014, follows open calls last year for casinos to be legalized made by key members of the military-backed National Reform Council (NRC). The Thai...

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