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Should the Thai government illegalize Casino in Thailand

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  • 1. Sirimas Somboon TSEA P 1 May 10, 2011 Research Question: Should the Thai government illegalize Casino in Thailand? “A 31 years old woman, Chaweewan gambled in a floating casino in Bangkokapartment belong to Papa Aa. After she disappears from home for five days, she rang herlawyer husband to bring 500,000 baht to pay the debt she owed to the casino owner.However, her husband said that he could only bring the money on Monday when the bankopened. But, on Monday, Chaweewans body was found in the car park of the casino, dead.There was a suicide note in her skirt pocket, which suggested that she has thrown herselffrom the twelfth floor above the casino. After the incident, {Papa Aa moved the casino toanother location one kilometer waited and then continue operating without any concern”(Thai Rath, 8 and 11 July 1997) Illegal gambling has been a big issue in Thailand in the past century. During Rama III’s regine [1824 - 51], the government legalized casino as a source of government revenue, however, during Rama V’s regine [1863 - 1910], the gambling was outlawed due to the increase in crime and bankruptcy,thus, gambling was completely closed down on April, 1 1917. Then, in the late 1980s, there were plans to turn the Ambassador Hotel in Pattaya to a casino-resort but the plan was ruined by the coup in 1992. (Phongpaichit, “Guns, Girls...”) Later on, in 2003, Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra also proposed the idea of legalizing casino, again however, the coup in 2006 cause his plans to be canceled (“Thailand’s amazing...”).Afterwards, in 2010, Samak Sundaravej adopted Thaksin’s idea and proposed the idea of legalizing casino in tourist centers such as in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, Hat Yai and Khon Kaen (Peak). In these cases, among the member of ASEAN [Association of South east Asian Nations], Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand are now the only member who oppose the idea of casino illegalization (Phongpaichit, “Guns, Girls...”) However, even though the legalization of casino is postpone, the illegal casino and gambling in Thailand is abundance. The Bangkok Post reported that its was estimated that there were around 187 to 300 gambling dens in Bangkok. (Phongpaichit, “Guns, Girls...”). Ironically, Thai people have an open aceess to legal gambling located near the thai border and 99% of those casino were owned by Thai people (You). In Asia, out of 100 billion from the betting earning, 80% are illegal Furthermore, it was estimated that 70% of Thai people lost 200 billion baht to underground gabling which is 8% of the GDP. (You). Three major forms of gambling in Thailand are underground lottery, football gambling, and casinos. The underground lottery was estimated that its involve 81-98 billion baht per year, while football gambling estimated value is 12-16 billion baht per year and casino estimated value was 45 – 163 billion baht per year. (You). Although legalizing casino brings economic and social benefit to Thailand, the act of gambling is against moral issues and the negative social cost is greater. Casino supporters claims that casino bring economic advantage due to the increases in the tax revenue and tourism and it’s stop the leakage of money to the oversea casino. One of the main reasons to legalized casino is they help close down the illegal dens and private casinos which a huge amount of money is going to illegal or offshore casino instead of going to the government (Peak). It was estimated that the total profit of the casino is around 44,900 - 163,220 million baht per year and people who travel oversea export 400 billion baht aboard annually (You). In this case, by legalizing casino, the government would have a economic advantage by receiving more tax money from foreign tourists and from Thai people who went around half a million trips to gamble near Thai border casino (Fullbrook) In addition, based on the data collected in Singapore, casino would help increase 20% of the tourism
  • 2. (“Legal Gambling...”). Similarly, since 2003, Macau tourism rate was quadruple and itsincreases 30% of the economic growth rate in 2007 (Steve). In 2007, Malaysia’s worldresort which contained the only casino operator increases its profit from $1 billion dollar to$2 billion (“An Overview…”). Due to the introduction of casino, people spent 47% moretime on the orchard road or at the report which is beneficial to the retailer (“The Pros...”). Inthis case, legalizing casino would create an increase in the foreign exchange inflow and taxrevenue. (Phongpaichit). In 2007, Philippines’ casino business increase its revenues from$400 million to 1 billion. Additionally, the South Korean’s revenues was increases from$256 million in 1994 to $1.15 billion in 2007 (Peak). Moreover its was estimated that thegambling revenue is around 500 billion baht a year while there were 100 billion baht netprofit (Fullbrook). In this case, with all these statistic collected, its could be used to predictthe expected economical advantage from legalizing casino in Thailand with the increase rateof tourism and tax revenue. Even though legalized casino may bring economic advantage, Thailand is a Buddhistcountry that attracts to the traditional value which view casino as an inappropriate activity(Peak). The introduction of casino may influence the citizen to have the money as the onlyvalue which destroyed the value and beliefs of Thai society (Fullbrook). In addition,gambling goes against the two theory; Utilitarian Theory and Deontology theory. Based onthe Utilitarian theory its focus on the right or wrong consequence as a result of a certainaction. and based on the Deontology theory, its tell human to avoid taking action due totemptation, attraction, emotion, motivation or interest (Chayaveero). Moreover, its increasesocial and moral demoralization and degeneration as now by legalizing casino young peoplewill view gambling as appropriate activities (You). Gambling activities also goes against theeightfold path that tells people that desire is the root of all suffering (You). The national pollshows that gambling is based on greed and covetousness with ⅔ of respondents stated thatwinning money is their reason to gamble (Paquet).Its also goes against the middle path whichtell people to make decision based on the three goodness of the spirit such as munificent [notgreedy] , scrupulousness [not obsessive] and lastly, tranquility [not angry] and perception ofreality (Chayaveero). Moreover, casinos also provide free alcohol which goes against thefifth Buddhist percepts which tell people to avoid participating in any action that wouldresult in losing conscientiousness. In addition, if the gambling is really legalized, they mightconsider legalizing drug and prostitution as well which goes against the Buddhist belief(Steve). Furthermore, the states have the duty to suppress vice in which they should notsupport casino that opposed the Buddhist precepts and make gambling become an acceptableactivity (Phongpaichit). Based on the Thai Constitution, the government once statedthat “The state shall patronize and protect Buddhism as well as encourage the `application ofreligious principles” (You). Casino supporter argue that there is positive social effect from legalizing casino dueto the decrease in corruption, increase in employment, and emphasize the reality of theexisted casino in the country. By legalizing casino, there will be less work and fewercorruption opportunities for the police, reduction of illegal gambling activity and increase ofemployment (You). Closing down illegal den and casino help minimize the governmentcorruption and bribery of police, politician and officials because the police gain benefit fromthe illegal casino by receiving profit of 0.3 - 2.5 million and most of the casino were ownedby politician. Moreover, it provides more employment for job related to casino (You). Forexample, in Singapore, in 2000 after the casino was legalized, its economic growth increasedby 14.7 and 1.7% to the GDP growth and increase the rate of employment with the increaseof 20,000 casino related jobs. In this case, with the revenue tax from the , it could be used forthe social welfare and infrastructure such as improving education, health system or fund stateand other local program (you) Fewer warzones would exist between the rivaling gambling
  • 3. business due to disciplinary government intervention (You). In addition, the supporter emphasize the fact that gambling is already existed in Thailand so it’s would be better to make it official which will make some illegal gambling game less accessible to the citizen (Phongpaichit). It was estimated that there were around 187 - 300 illegal den in Bangkok with around 61-100 were small casino 122-200 medium casino, and at least 5 are large casino. It was also predicted that illegal casino existed around half of all province in Thailand especially Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Samut Salkhon, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi with 13 province have at least 3 big casino while 25 province have at least 2 small to medium casino. Even though casino supporter have claim that there is an economic advantage from legalizing casino, the reality about the positive economic gain from legalizing is overestimated In reality, since gambling is a global business, the tax revenue needed to be divided with the international operator for technology,staff and management and they cannot sure that they would attract international tourism since there are other casino available (You). Moreover, instead of spending their money on local stores for goods, people spend money on gambling. For example, when the lottery was introduced, the store in one community reported a 17% drop in grocery sales. Additionally, these tax revenues are ineffective because most of the profit comes from slot machines which tend to be played by lower income group (You). The casino attract the lower income group by providing free transport and offer incentives such as casino bonuses, free drink, food and special services like offering membership (Phongpaichit). In this case, the tax revenue were mainly from the poor people instead of the rich people which maked poor people become poorer. Furthermore, if Casinos’ customers are prominently local residents, then there would be no real local economy gain due to the fact that there is an transfer of money from one place to another and not allocated to consumption, investments or other contribution to the GDP (Torr). Therefore, the tax revenue could not be counted as benefit to the society. Likewise, although their is an economic gain for the casino business, there is a negative economic impact toward existing local populace such as restaurant and movie theater because the money that were used to spend on those popular were now being spend on gambling . It was estimated that the numbers of the restaurants in the area increased by 40% in 1977 (Voorhis).This is because casinos are designed to be a luxuriously self-contained, round-the-clock services that are occupied with their own bar and musical entertainment and restaurants in order to keep their customer at bay (Torr). Despite of the fact that legalizing casinos may bring some social advantage, the truthof the matter is negative social effect from legalizing casinos cost greater as gamblingpromote crimes, suicidal, abuse, divorce, decrease amount of saving, and putting teen at riskof becoming compulsive gambler. Legalizing casinos influence people to decrease theamount of money they save because they spend it on gambling. According to the datacollected in Australia after legal casinos opened, the rate of saving decreased from 10% to3% (Phongpaichit). This would also increase the rate of crime. Based on the survey, 57% ofthe gamblers steal on an average of $135,000 each. (Torr). Additionally, there would beinternational mafia gang and loan sharks which give loans at a very high interest to gamblerwhich cause increase in murder case, increase in the rate of suicidal and woman who wereforced into prostitution. (Phongpaichit). Moreover,.legalizing casino will also increase thenumber of compulsive gambler .Its was estimated that the pathological gambler cause$13,200 to $52,000 per year (kindt). In addition, the study of compulsive gambler claim thatthere is 20% to 30% of the gambler who make an attempts for suicidal and their suicidalwere 3 times higher than normal people. (Torr). Moreover, there is an increase in police andpolitical corruption from the big leaks in revenue. It was estimated that the total profit thepolice receive from casino den is around 596 - 2756 million baht per year for their protection
  • 4. and ignoring the existing casino. (Phongpaichit, “Guns, Girls...”). There tends to be policecorruption in which credulous police may be retaliating for not getting promoted or beingalienated (Phongpaichit). Bangkok people lost 8 billion baht per month while 5% of the lostgo to police and official (You). The legalization would increase the number of peoplegambling which lead to debt, backruptcy, broken families, poverty, substance abuse,unemployment and crime (Phongpaichit).It was estimated that gambling play a part in 1/3 ofdivorce and 53.5% of pathological gambler reported have been divorced. Moreover, 23% ofthe spouses and 17% of the pathological gamblers’ children were physically and verballyabused as estimated by Bland and colleagues (1993). In addition, Ladouceur et al. (1994)found that 28 % of the 60 pathological gamblers have debts of $75,000 to $150,000 andbetween 21 - 36% of gamblers lost their job due to gambling. Furthermore, young people willbe exposed to gambling which will increase the rate of teen gambling addition. Its wasestimated that 90% of all teenager survey reported gambling at some time in their life and 6.6of them is a compulsive gambler. Moreover, nationally, 1 out of 10 teenager and 1 out of 8college student have gambling problem and the rate of teen gambling addition is 3 timesmore than adult’s. (Paquet) Furthermore, due to the lack of education that the lower incomecitizen receive, they tend to be victims of the slot machine as they believe that these machinegrant them the easiest access to becoming rich. As a result, these machines earn the Casinomajor profit. There were also an increase in substance abuse as 32% of gambler have tobaccoaddition, 17% with food addition and 11% with shopping addition. (Torr). Thai government should not legalized gambling because its go against moral issue and they bring negative social and economical cost. Thailand is a Buddhist country and legalizing gambling goes against Buddhist belief. Moreover, the economic advantage is unrealistic and overestimated and the negative economic effect cost are greater. Lastly, there are negative social effect from legalizing gambling such as its promote crimes, suicidal, abuse, substance used, divorce, debt, decrease people’s saving, and young people being expose to gambling. In this case, instead of trying to deal with illegal casino, police corruption, the leakage of money to oversea casino by legalizing casino in Thailand, the government should educated people about the economic and social consequence about gambling and promote moral issue, and promote police and political reform. Works CitedChayaveero, Phramaha Veerachai. "A Critical Study of Ethical Problems : The Case ofTheLegalizing Gambling in Thailand." Mcu.ac.th. N.p. 3 Apr. 2004. Web. 15 May 2011.Fullbrook, David. "Thailand: The Economics of Vice." Asia Times Online. Asia Time, 08Jan. 2004. Web. 27 Apr. 2011."Gambling Town Has Its Pros and Cons." MLive.com. N.p. 01 Aug. 2008. Web. 08May 2011.Kindt, John Warren. "Economic Impacts Of Licensed Casino Gambling In West Virginia."PBS: Public Broadcasting Service.org. N.p. Web . n.d. 15 May 2011."Legal Gambling in Thailand." Thailand Musings. N.p. 4 Mar. 2008. Web. 22 May 2011Ogwyn, John H. "Legalized Gambling: Economic Boom or Social Bust?" Tomorrows World. N.p. Aug. 2001. Web. 08 May 2011.Paquet, Bob. "Gambling A Moral Issue." Crying in the Wilderness.org. N.p. Web. n.d. 15 May2011.Peak, Grant. "Thai PM Proposes Legalizing Casinos at Tourist Spots." The Irrawaddy. Irrawaddy, 05 Mar. 2008. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.
  • 5. Phongpaichit, Pasuk. “Gambling in Thailand.” Utsahakam Kan Phanan. N.p. Feb. 1999.Web.25 Apr. 2011.Phongpaichit, Pasuk, Phiriyarangsan Sangsit, and Treerat Nualnoi. "Casinos." Guns, Girls,Gambling,Ganja: Thailands Illegal Economy and Public Policy. Chiang Mai: Silkworm,1998. 12-44. Print.Steve. "Legal Gambling in Thailand." Thailand Musings. N.p. 04 Mar. 2008. Web. 1 May2011."The Pros and Cons of Gambling." Rebet.com. N.p. Web. n.d. 08 May 2011.Torr, James D. Gambling: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven, 2002. Print.Voorhis, Dan. "Would Casino Help or Hurt Our Economy?" EBSCO. 17 May 2007. Web. 16May 2011.You, Anabela Vio. The Legalization of Gambling in Thailand; a Revisited Discourse in LightOf Recent Developments. N.p. 2004. Web. 28 Apr. 2011.

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