This post is also available in: ไทย (Thai)
Thailand is a lovely country home to amazing beaches, intriguing history, festive celebrations, and majestic landscapes. Over the years, it has become a magnet for expats who want to live in a Southeast Asian country with low cost and high standards of living.
More than the beautiful scenery and exciting adventures one can experience in Thailand, the country is also a favourite among those who want to try their luck in casinos.
The country has no land-based casinos because it is illegal to gamble in the country. The ban of land-based casinos came after when the Gambling Act in B.E. 2478 (1935) was passed. Under the said law, only the horse race betting and the national lottery are allowable forms of gambling. Playing casino games even without monetary exchange may be considered gambling by the local police.
The law also stipulates that those caught engaging in any illegal form of gambling can be fined and imprisoned. But truth be told, there are underground casinos still in operation. When visiting the country, tourists will see a large percentage of locals playing casino games from the confines of private offices to funerals.
As mentioned, casinos are illegal in Thailand. There are still, however, illegal casinos that locals can play on. While many Thai locals are gamblers, the casino games they play are not the usual card and table games that Europeans are familiar with. In fact, baccarat, roulette, and craps are not popular among local bettors.
It is common knowledge in Thailand that underground casinos are rampant since many locals patronize their illegal operations. Betting in illegal casinos come with risks. Thai bookmakers are notorious for withholding big winnings from players. Since the transaction was illegal to begin with, these players have no choice but to accept their loss and move on. They cannot report these deceiving bookmakers to the authorities because they also run the risk of being charged, fined, and imprisoned.
The country also imposes the Thailand Civil and Commercial Code (sections 853 and 855) that states that any debt arising from a gambling activity is unacceptable.
Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that was not colonized. Since there was no foreign influence, most of the casino games popular in the country are unknown to many expats and tourists. Similarly, many Thai locals are also not quite familiar with foreign casino games such as 21 and poker.
In Thailand, the most popular casino game is Hi-Lo. This is the local version of the Sic Bo and Tai-Sai games.
Hi-Lo is a dice game that is very simple to play. It does not require any skill or advantage to win the game. Winning is all pure luck. While it is a fun game to play, hi-lo is often played for money. The game is easy to understand. Players just have to bet on whether the outcome of the dice will be high or low. The outcome is high if the sum of the dice equals eight, nine, 10, 11 or 12. It is low if the outcome is one, two, three, four, five, or six. If the outcome is seven, the outcome is called seven. Normally, bets on high and low outcomes have a payoff of 1:1 while seven bets have better odds at 4:1.
Despite the blanket ban on playing cards, locals are fond of playing card games. The Playing Cards Act from B.E. 2486 (1943) states that manufacturing, distributing, and possessing playing cards are illegal. Anyone living in Thailand does not have the freedom to purchase cards from any convenience store or shopping mall. Many of the locals have to travel to duty-free zones located on Laos’ borders if they want to buy cards and play with them at the privacy of their homes.
For card games, Gao Gae and Pok Deng are the popular ones played in communities. These games are almost the same as playing baccarat. They only differ in the rules about the draw.
Thailand is a beautiful country to visit. While you are staying here, it is still possible to play in land-based casinos but you have to make an extra trip. Visitors who do not want to risk playing in illegal land-based casinos are instead diverted to the casinos near the borders of Thailand.
Thailand offers enthusiasts an option for playing in casinos. The Aranyaprathet District at Sa Keao Province of Thailand is only about 3 hours from Bangkok. Most locals cross through Poipet, home to a string of casinos. Thai passport holders can go to Poipet without having their passports stamped. They can gamble without having any trace of them being there. Opened in 1999, Crown Casino is the most popular in the area.
Casinos in Laos are also a good option for those in Thailand. The best casino to visit and play on is the Savan Vegas. Gamblers can experience a Las Vegas-style casino here. Frequent players are given VIP cards and great hotel accommodations. Aside from slots, card games, and table games, the casino also offers sports betting. Expats living in Thailand highly consider Savan Vegas because of the convenience of not having to do any visa runs. The casino will take care of all the leg work of securing your visa from the Thai Consulate in Laos while you enjoy their casino games.
As previously mentioned, any form of gambling is illegal in Thailand. The legality of an online casino may not be clearly stated in the Gambling Act of 1935 but the activity is still considered prohibited by the local officials. Still, the law has a loophole that most online punters use to get away with. Those living in Thailand are not allowed to play in online casinos based in the country. But placing bets in online casinos with international licences are hardly regulated.
Online casinos with licenced abroad mostly target players from these countries with vague laws when it comes to online betting.
The Thailand government is mulling over including online casinos both local and international in their laws. Just recently, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology started to monitor internet activities of the locals. IP addresses linked with online casinos may be blocked. The government has also used phone analysis during huge gambling events to make sure that the locals are not engaging in any form of illegal gambling.
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