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Hua Hin one of five potential locations for a casino in Thailand

Hua Hin is set to be recommended as one of five potential locations for a new casino and entertainment complex.

During a Q&A session held at Phoenix 51 on Friday (July 29), Dr Saensak Siriphanich who is heading the government’s committee on the plans to allow casinos in Thailand, said that Hua Hin, along with Bangkok and around the Eastern Economic Corridor, Krabi, Chiang Rai and Bueng Kan have all been identified as potential locations for a casino.

While exact sites have not yet been determined, the casino would likely be located within 30 to 40km from Hua Hin airport and could also potentially be located across the provincial border in Phetchaburi province.

During the session, which was moderated by Phoenix Group CEO John Laroche, Dr Saensak gave insight into the work that has been undertaken by the committee as part of the proposals to allow legal casinos in Thailand.

Dr Saensak revealed that the 60 member committee has met approximately 30 times during the last six months, consulted experts and studied casinos in neighbouring countries including in Myanmar, Laos and at Poipet in Cambodia. The committee has also looked at the business models of a total of 49 casinos around the world.

John Laroche (left) Dr Saensak Siriphanich (centre), Udorn Olsson (right) speaking at Phoenix 51 on Thailand’s plans to legalise casinos.

On Wednesday (July 27) the committee made a formal recommendation that casinos be made legal in Thailand, with the next stage of the process to see the matter discussed in parliament “within the next four weeks”, Dr Saensak said.

If parliament agrees to the recommendation, the plans will be put before the cabinet in order to set up another committee responsible for establishing regulation.

Also speaking at Friday’s Q&A session was prominent local businessman and government advisor Udorn Olsson who said that a Singapore style casino and entertainment complex, such as the one at Marina Bay Sands Casino would be one of the favoured models for a casino in Thailand.

A casino in Hua Hin would one akin to a luxury resort and would not destroy the image of Thailand or the local area.

Mr Udorn said that a casino would likely form part of a multi purpose entertainment complex, with only 20 or 30 percent of its revenue generated from gaming, with the other revenue coming from non-gaming activities.

The complex would likely include a five star hotel, convention or exhibition centre, a department store, theme park, golf course and green space.

Mr Udorn said the project could generate significant revenue for the country, particularly from tourism, without being to the detriment of society or at the expense of the important family values which are a foundation of Thai culture.

Mr Udorn said that Spectrum, the independent and non-partisan consultancy group that specialises in regulation and policy of legalized gambling worldwide, has also been consulted on the plans to legalise casinos in Thailand.

In terms of a potential multi-purpose entertainment complex in Hua Hin, Mr Udorn said that an area of at least 100 rai would be needed to build such a complex, which would also include activities suitable for families.

Meanwhile, the investment needed for such a project would be approximately US$300 million.

The motivation for legalization of casinos in Thailand is to generate revenue from tourist spending, taxes and investment. It would also help to create jobs across the country.

Previously, committee members have also said that legal casinos could help curb illegal gambling in Thailand.


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