Thai Police have arrested 93 individuals near the nation’s capital of Bangkok following a raid on an illegal gambling session held in a luxury hotel of the Pattaya municipality.
There have been claims that are being investigated stating that the makeshift casino was allowed to operate subsequent to a bribe of 2 million baht (approx. 53,000 EUR) paid to government officials.
Gambling tables, chips, playing cards. CCTV cameras and smartphones were also seized and confiscated by the Thai Police after the suspects were discovered playing cards and other games within the hotel.
The Thai Police arrested 93 individuals were comprised of 83 Indian, 4 Myanmar and 6 Thai nationals.
According to the Thai Police, Sitranan Kaewlor confessed to charging Indian tourists 50,000 baht (approx. 1,300 EUR) each for accommodation, food, flights and transportation. Also renting the hotel room in the Asia Pattaya hotel for 120,000 baht (approx. 3,200 EUR) to serve as an illicit gambling den.
Separated into gamblers and operators, it was later revealed that the large group of Indian gamblers was released following their appearance in Pattaya provincial court, however there has been no clarification regarding their repatriation to India.
Among them was Chikoti Praveen, a gambler of some note, who was originally considered as an operator and organiser in this incident. Disputing these claims, stating that he was informed the gambling ring would be legal and that he was assured that special dispensation was granted by the Thai government for its operation.
Importantly, his inactivity regarding the organisation will mean he is charged separately from the 6 Thais who have been found to be the correct operators of the illicit activity.
This is yet another raid conducted by Thai officials, following an uptick in regulatory law enforcement against illicit gambling.
The sector remains almost completely illegal with the exception of lottery and horse racing activities. The prohibition has been upheld since the Gambling Act of 1935 was passed through the government. The legislation was so invasive it prohibits the ownership of more than 120 playing cards.
Despite this it is still estimated that 5.5 billion dollars are generated annually by this industry with 70% of adult residents gambling regularly. Due to the incredibly lucrative underground casino business consistently being propagated within Thai borders however, moves have been made to legalise these activities.
If incidents like this persist and continue to escalate in prominence perhaps a legalisation would be of benefit not only to capitalise on the market but also to legally protect those at risk from such an uncontrolled industry.
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