There has been talk of a casino (rather a big one) coming to Thailand for the last few years. In 2015, Las Vegas Sands Group was even heard lobbying to open a casino in Thailand. It seems all that remained just talk because King Bhumibol Adulyadej was perhaps against casino gambling in Thailand. After the demise of the revered King in 2016, the talk of casino gambling getting legal status in Thailand gained traction with some reputed international media groups publishing stories on the subject. In April 2017, someone out there ventured a “definitive” story on a casino license already having been issued with the proposed construction to start in August 2017. Another bombshell accompanied that news. The casino would come up on Walking Street.
Walking Street Will Not Be The Same
The possibility that the character of Walking Street would change was already quite real. Many buildings on the street have not been exactly legal. They have not been legal for several years but because of the booming nightlife business on the street and the payoffs going to all the right places, nobody seemed to mind. And, Walking Street would not be the only area to have illegal buildings in Pattaya. Apparently, something else seemed to spur the authorities into action as far as Walking Street was concerned. The apple in some powerful eyes was the commercial potential of the beach side of Walking Street. If all the go go bars, and restaurants, and massage shops, and the other sundry businesses on the beach side of the street could be demolished, Walking Street would become open to the sea. Then some simple beautification of the area for the sake of tourists or a massive commercial development for the sake of those who matter could be undertaken in that empty space. The casino currently in the news could be the answer to everything.
Casino Gambling in Pattaya
Illegal casino gambling has been going on in Pattaya up till now as is evident from the material available on Google news. With a simple search, I was able to find incidents of illegal “casino nights” and even illegal casino establishments in Pattaya getting busted by the police in 2015, 2016, and even in January 2017. So, there is ample scope from the business point of view if a legal casino comes up in Pattaya.
There is no dearth of tourists. Gambling is a favourite pass time of Thai people also because they have single handedly managed to sustain the casino establishments operating in the casino zone on the Cambodia side of the border (Poipet) along Aranyaprathet. Thais can enter and exit the casino zone by just showing their national ID. Cambodian citizens are not welcome there, and tourists of other nationalities get harassed by Cambodian immigration officials. Effectively it is a casino operation meant for Thais only. So, why wouldn’t they gamble in their own country if a legal casino comes up in Thailand? They would certainly want to gamble but whether they are allowed to or not would depend on the Thai government. My guess is that if a casino actually opens in Pattaya, there would be restrictions on the entry of Thai nationals. Perhaps a total ban or a system similar to that in Singapore where foreigners can enter for free but Singapore nationals and residents have to pay entry fee.
The News of Casino Opening in Pattaya
This website on April 1, 2017 gave the news that local government officials in Pattaya made the announcement of a “Super Casino” having been permitted on Walking Street. (Link: http://news.lovepattayathailand.com/local/new-super-casino-given-go-ahead-pattaya/) “The work would commence in August 2017 and is expected to take around six months to complete.” Perhaps it was an “April Fools Day” story, or may be it was true at least partially. Taking a more realistic look, the royal cremation/funeral of King Bhumibol Adulyadej is planned for October 2017. After that the country will be ready for some changes under its new King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Legalised casino gambling could be one of those changes. It is after all true that casinos pull in many many tourists and such a move will certainly benefit Thailand in terms of revenue generation. I say, the odds are in favour of the punters.