Thailand Accelerates Casino Legislation Amid US Operator Concerns

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Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is urging policymakers and the Ministry of Finance to fast-track the casino regulatory process, aiming for swift approval of gaming venues. However, some analysts worry that the country’s regulatory framework may deter major US operators.

Racing Against Japan in Casino Development

Thavisin’s push for expedited legislation is driven by the ambition to outpace Japan in establishing integrated resorts. If Thailand approves casino gaming regulations soon, construction on the first venue could begin promptly, potentially opening before the anticipated 2030 launch of MGM Osaka.

Potential Landscape of Thailand’s Casino Industry

Speculation about Thailand emerging as a gaming hub has attracted interest from major gaming companies, including Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Resorts, all of which have significant operations in Asia. Sands, for instance, operates one of Singapore’s two integrated resorts. Despite this interest, analysts caution that Thailand’s regulatory environment might be less favorable compared to other markets where these US firms currently operate.

Attractive Tax Rates for Casinos

While US gaming companies may have reservations about Thailand’s regulations, the proposed gaming tax rate could be enticing. Experts suggest Thailand might implement a 17% tax on gross gaming revenue (GGR), mirroring Singapore’s rate. This competitive tax rate could position Thailand favorably against Japan and South Korea.

Economic Potential and Investment Requirements

The number of entertainment centers that Thailand will approve remains undecided, but the inclusion of casinos is expected to drive economic growth. Each entertainment district is projected to require a minimum investment of $2.75 billion, a sum that global gaming giants can readily meet. Estimates for the number of approved venues vary widely, from five to eight to as many as 20, though the latter seems less likely.

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