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Why is Online Gambling Illegal in Thailand?

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It wasn’t just about Thai-based companies, either. Many sites based overseas have also been blocked, making Thailand a major exemption to a rule that exists all over the world. In many countries where online gambling is restricted, governments prevent casinos and sportsbooks from operating within but are okay with sites that operate overseas.

In October 2020, the Thai government conducted a major raid on websites deemed to be in contravention of Thai law. By the time the dust had settled, 190 websites had been blocked, the majority of which were online casinos.

Such is the case in New Zealand, for example, where gambling is technically allowed, but only if it’s done through sites based outside of NZ.

So, why are things so different in Thailand, and what makes Thai culture so averse to online gambling?

Religious Issues

Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist nation and gambling is frowned upon in Buddhism. It’s considered to be one of the vices that can lead to ruin and it’s believed that people should refrain from gambling if they want to avoid financial ruin.

There are several proverbs that relate directly to the act of gambling and warn against it. These beliefs have existed for many generations, but they seem to have become more prevalent in the age of online gambling.

Gambling has been closely associated with violent crime, theft, drug use, and other social problems in Thailand, and many Thais consider it to be just as problematic as recreational drugs and alcohol.

It’s Seen as a Social Issue

In the English-speaking world, including countries like New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, gambling is seen as entertainment. However, the potential issues are also recognized and it’s known that a very small number of people will have an issue with gambling.

As a result, there are systems in place that can help these individuals and prevent them from coming to harm.

In the UK, for instance, people suffering from gambling addiction can call helplines, use self-exclusions, and get help from a variety of charities. There are also betting limits on interactive games and casinos/betting shops are trained to recognize gambling addiction and punished when they don’t.

In Thailand, it’s a different story entirely.

This often see gambling as a social issue and not a medical one. If someone has developed a gambling addiction, it’s not because they have a problem that needs to be remedied, it’s because society has led them down that path. There are ways that they can seek help, but they don’t always go looking for that help.

The UK has a long history of legal gambling and that has allowed it to build the infrastructure it needs. The same can’t be said for Thailand, and the result is that gambling addicts often suffer more.

They Don’t Have a Culture of Legal Gambling

The United States is currently undergoing an online gambling revolution, and despite being a very religious country, it has been able to make a seamless transition due to its history with land-based casinos and live poker. The UK has a massive gambling industry, and it was all built off the back of its horse racing industry, with punters moving from trackside betting to betting shops, casinos, and then online gambling.

In Thailand, there isn’t much of a legal gambling history on which the nation can build. As a result, the government and people still have a very negative attitude toward it. When they think of gambling, they don’t think of glitzy sportsbooks and high-tech betting online casinos, they think of smokey gambling dens and seedy bookmakers.

Summary: Gambling in Thailand

Based on the government shutdowns mentioned at the outset of this article, it’s unlikely that the status of online gambling will change any time soon.

It was a campaign that triggered a wave of controversy in Thailand, with many citizens speaking out against the censorship and demanding a fairer and more just society. But it seems that those protests didn’t hit the mark. Not only is online gambling still illegal in the country, but the Thai government has continued its wide-sweeping shutdowns.

Such changes wouldn’t be unprecedented, but when they do occur, they take many years and even decades to implement. After all, it’s not just about signing a few laws. It’s about making widespread cultural changes that are felt across generations, and that doesn’t happen overnight.

 

 

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