Thailand’s Most Recent Effort To Attract Tourists Is To Legalize Casinos

Thailand would be a textbook illustration of the value of doing everything possible. The nation just decriminalized cannabis and is now planning to open casinos in an all-out campaign to entice travelers back after the Covid hiatus. In a suggestion approved by the Thai parliament last month, it was suggested that the government permit the construction of “entertainment complexes,” which include legal casinos, in significant cities throughout the nation.

Gary Bowerman, director of Check-in Asia, an Asia-focused travel intelligence and research firm, hypothesized that Thailand may be experiencing a fear of missing out due to the massive inflows of tourism infrastructure investment anticipated in Southeast Asia over the next few years, especially in growth markets with the largest potential, such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

According to Bowerman, Thailand wants to demonstrate to potential investors that it can diversify its travel and tourist industry. “A fierce battle is forming to draw in tourists and investors to support the regional economies’ recovery. The economic story of the area over the ensuing years will revolve around this.

Integrated Resorts Market in Asia

The market for integrated resorts, which comprise hotels, casinos, conference centers, dining places, entertainment venues, upmarket shops, and theme parks, is already very competitive in Asia. Integrated resorts are also being planned in Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, and Malaysia, in addition to regional market leaders like Macau and Singapore.

Other Asian cities now have an opportunity to draw these tourists because Macau, the hub of the region’s casinos, is still reticent to accept visitors who follow mainland China’s strict zero-Covid policy. Integrated casino resorts might be a great tool for tourism, according to Alan Woinski, CEO of Gaming USA Corporation, as long as it is seen as an additional factor rather than the main one.

South Korea and Vietnam serve as examples of how to handle things incorrectly, according to Woinski, while Singapore, which has just two integrated resorts (the business-oriented Marina Bay Sands and the leisure-oriented Resorts World Sentosa), may be the greatest case study. Vietnam forbids locals from gambling and forces developers to invest $2 billion in each resort. Also, their sites were chosen to promote tourism. Only foreigners are allowed to gamble in South Korea. These resorts have only caused losses for both countries.

In this portion, Woinski did emphasize Macau’s success, but he also stated that “China has been Macau’s biggest feeder market worldwide. However, that has now fully backfired in their faces. Thailand may stake its future on its popularity with Chinese tourists, but these visitors came to Thailand for a variety of reasons, and Bowerman pointed out that there is no assurance that these resorts will be able to draw the crucial junket market that fueled the Macau casino industry.

Then again, China has also made strong statements prohibiting its citizens from participating in gambling overseas.

The Thailand Story

It takes time and significant financial expenditure to bring an integrated resort to a location. The 1935 Gambling Act of Thailand, which forbids the majority of forms of betting but contains a provision allowing the government to issue decrees or licenses for certain gambling activities and venues, has now come under fire from a group of Thai politicians.

“If numerous facilities are operational, at least $11 billion in additional tax 007카지노 money would be generated yearly,” said Pichet Chuamuangphan, a vice-chairman of the panel.

A tender and licensing procedure would be conducted after the legislative amendment, and investors and franchisees would then need to be secured. According to Bowerman, after undertaking master planning and approval, building, fit-outs, and personnel employment would be necessary.

He said that Japan, which changed its casino gambling law six years ago, is an excellent example of how drawn-out and difficult these procedures can be.

Five casino resorts spread out around the nation are viable, according to the Casino Committee of Thailand. Greater Bangkok, Phuket, Phang-nga, or Krabi were among the recommended locations, as were Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai in the north, Pattaya City in the east, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, or Khon Kaen in the northeast, and Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai in the south. Although five resorts may be a bit excessive for Thailand, Woinski observed that the locations are ideal. “One is in the city, Bangkok, while the rest are scattered across the country in touristier areas.”

On their most recent earnings conference call, MGM Resorts mentioned that they were interested in the Thai market. Given its robust tourism infrastructure, Phuket would be an excellent contender for legalized casinos, according to Sumitha Soorian, executive director of the Phuket Hotels Association.

“Coupling gaming with a renowned tourist destination can be a powerful pull. Also, local gaming fees might provide the island’s economy with much-needed financing for infrastructure. Instead of merely separate casinos, I would support integrated resorts, Soorian remarked.

The success of Thailand’s integrated resorts, according to Woinski, “truly depends on how Thais feel about it,” he cautioned. The Japanese have been very explicit about their opposition to integrated resorts. Only two offers have been made, despite early estimates of building over 30 bidders, due to local opposition and Japan’s absurdly high investment criteria.

What Are the Risks?

There are concerns about whether investors will be eager to enter a new market, especially if it is Thailand, the most visited nation in Southeast Asia, given the damage Covid-19 has done to the integrated resorts industry in Asia. Beginning from scratch entails significant risks because the market for integrated resorts and casino gambling will have some time to revive, according to Bowerman. “Going for the integrated resort business doesn’t offer any protection from a potential pandemic.”

Woinski would want to see Thailand adopt a Singapore-type model with only two or three resorts. “They look like they’ll be doing something between Singapore and the Philippines. Both are successful, this will be one of the few good opportunities remaining in the global casino business.”

However, it all depends on what the final parameters and tax rates will be, as Woinski noted that is what has doomed many others such as Japan, Spain, and Greece. “If they are reasonable, like Singapore, this can be very successful. However, if they turn out to be hostile and unrealistic, like Japan, it won’t work,” he said.

Thailand might profit from adopting the trend of high-end integrated resorts in Asia, which normally generate significant income from meetings and events. But Bowerman issues a warning: Would this degrade the current regional market in a market that is still recovering?

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