MGM China shares experienced a 6 percent gain while Galaxy shares increased by 5.3 percent at the close of trading on Friday amidst rumours that the two gambling giants may join Las Vegas Sands in their interest to set up casino resorts in Thailand.
Although Thailand’s strict gambling laws prohibit all forms of betting except for the national lottery and horse racing, the positive impact on tourism that is being experienced by China’s reopening of Macau makes the sector very attractive in the region.
The prohibition of gambling in Thailand dates back to the Gambling Act 1935, which amongst other restrictions, includes a ban on the private ownership of more than 120 playing cards.
With Thailand’s potential in the gaming sector, other operators are seeking to get a head start in this new emerging market.
Thailand is fertile ground for iGamers
Thailand is already ahead of Malaysia in the iGaming market. With a population of 70 million, internet users at 54 million, and smartphone ownership at 52 million, Thailand is also fertile ground for iGamers.
Galaxy is owned by gaming, retail and hospitality businessman and entrepreneur, Lui Che-woo, who is also looking at entering the sector in the United Arab Emirates. Galaxy has already established offices in Thailand.
MGM, which is set to manage an entertainment resort in Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, already has an office in Thailand. The company has been discussing the legalisation of casinos with the Thai Parliamentary Committee
Las Vegas Sands Corp has been showing interest in its expansion to Thailand for a few years. Chief Executive Officer Robert Goldstein stated that the company is “looking hard” at the Thai market and is eager to have a foothold in the region.
Only second to Indonesia in Southeast Asia’s gaming market
Thailand is second only to Indonesia in Southeast Asia’s gaming market and its DEPA Game Accelerator Program aims to improve the landscape for game publishers and developers. In 2020, two cloud gaming services were launched: Blacknut by Gameloft and Antstream Arcade, and other local games include Kingdoms Reborn, Home Sweet Home, Project Nimbus, Fallen Knight and Timelie.
Increased Smartphone ownership and faster internet have seen console, and PC online games such as Diablo converted to mobile platforms joining popular titles like Garena RoV, Garena Free Fire, Roblox, and PUBG Mobile. Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games such as League of Legends have contributed to the popularity of the battle royale genre.
While Thailand does not have the same level of gaming infrastructure as other countries in the area such as Macau, the Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea, there are now many glaring hints that the country is becoming more receptive to implementing a gaming sector.