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Chaichana Detdacho Fights Against Legal Casinos in Thailand, Advocates for Traditional Games

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In the pulsating heart of Thailand’s political arena, the venerable Democrat Party ignited a fiery debate this Sunday, staunchly opposing the government’s avant-garde proposition to weave the fabric of legal casinos into the vibrant tapestry of Thai entertainment complexes. The whispers of a bill, nurtured under the auspices of the Pheu Thai-led government, are making the rounds, with sources indicating it’s snugly tucked in the drafting stages.

Enter stage left, Chaichana Detdacho, a charismatic Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat and the deputy party leader, who shared his two cents with a zest that could only belong to a seasoned politician. “Personally,” he quipped on Sunday, with the air of a man who has seen it all, “I believe the government’s energies could be far better spent championing our time-honored [betting] traditions. Cow fighting, cockfighting, fish squabbling, Hi-Lo board games, and the quintessential funeral card games – these are the cultural pastimes that truly deserve our accolades and support.”

This exclamation came hot on the heels of the House of Representatives’ resounding nod last Thursday, which saw a unanimous vote in favor of exploring the tantalizing prospects of Thailand welcoming the world of legalised casinos into its embrace.

Yet, Chaichana, with the wisdom of a sage, sounded a note of caution, hinting that the golden allure of casinos might mask a trove of troubles underneath. “Contrary to popular belief,” he observed, “overseas escapades into the realm of casinos have often opened a Pandora’s box of woes rather than rewards.”

He lamented the government’s apparent oversight in not taking a leaf out of the chapters of international case studies – from Singapore to the Philippines, where the dream of a tax revenue bonanza from casinos faded faster than a gambler’s luck. He didn’t stop there. A list of nations – the US, Europe, Britain, and Australia, among others – have tasted the bitter pill of problems spawned from the legalisation of casinos. “Years down the line, they stood dumbfounded, realising that legal casinos weren’t the magic bullet to outlaw underground betting they’d hoped for,” Chaichana mused, painting a vivid picture of the darker side of this glittering industry.

He pointed out the spiking crime rates and the alarming ease with which the youth, some as tender as 15, could dive into the gambling fray. The anticipated economic boon from casinos, it seems, was more of a trickle than a flood, with private investors pocketing the lion’s share of the profits, leaving crumbs for the community.

Moreover, an intriguing twist in the narrative emerged as Chaichana revealed that several countries, which currently top the charts of Thailand’s international visitorship, have hinted at a stern reprisal – curtailing tourist numbers if Thailand were to roll out the red carpet for casinos. This cautionary tale comes amidst estimates that the government’s plans might necessitate a staggering investment of up to 300 billion baht, as recent studies suggest.

“Why not cherish and legalise our captivating traditional games for recreational purposes?” Chaichana proposed, envisaging a model of controlled enjoyment coupled with a modest fee for occasional betting, akin to a funeral game, as a means to enrich the national coffers without inviting the specter of new problems.

He also touched upon the underground lottery – an open secret, thriving in every nook and cranny of Thailand. “Why not bring it into the daylight and under government oversight, just like the official lottery, if the real goal is to augment revenue?” he posited, presenting a pragmatic alternative to the government’s casino dream.

While the Democrat Party’s collective stance against the government’s casino crusade is yet to crystallize into a formal resolution, it’s clear that a shared sentiment of skepticism and caution resonates among its ranks, Chaichana revealed.

Suchatvee Suwansawat, another spirited deputy leader of the Democrats, echoed the need for a meticulous study of the proposition, drawing parallels with the government’s approach to cannabis decriminalisation. He suggested that if Thailand were to take a leaf out of Singapore’s book on casino legalisation, a thorough groundwork of public education and preparation to mitigate potential adverse impacts should be the first order of business.

“After all,” he concluded with a flourish, “our beautiful beaches, mesmerizing tourist attractions, and rich culture are treasures beyond compare, far more deserving of spotlight and promotion to attract tourists. Thailand doesn’t need to chase the fleeting allure of gambling to captivate hearts.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political chessboard, Kosol Pattama, a Pheu Thai MP and the chairman of the House’s sub-committee studying the proposal, hinted that a bill paving the way for entertainment complexes might soon waltz into the parliamentary session, setting the stage for a riveting debate on the future of entertainment and gambling in Thailand.


  1. TukTukLover April 1, 2024

    Chaichana’s perspective is refreshing! Gambling ruins societies. Legalizing traditional games instead of casinos sounds like a brilliant way to boost revenue without the negative consequences.

    • Cityslicker April 1, 2024

      Refreshing? More like avoiding progress. The world is moving forward, and Thailand needs to adapt. Casinos could bring in much-needed tourism and international investment.

      • TukTukLover April 1, 2024

        It’s not about avoiding progress, it’s about choosing the right kind. Look at Chaichana’s points, casinos tend to benefit investors more than the community and increase crime rates. Why risk that?

      • Philosoraptor April 1, 2024

        Exactly, Tuk. It’s crucial we consider the social and ethical implications, not just the economic ones. Traditional games can be a means of preserving culture too.

    • Observer April 1, 2024

      Has anyone considered the logistical nightmare of regulating these traditional games at a national level? Legalizing casinos is one thing; overseeing countless small bets is another entirely.

      • TukTukLover April 1, 2024

        That’s a valid point, Observer. But with proper legislation and technology, it’s definitely manageable. The key is to start small and scale up.

  2. HistoryBuff April 1, 2024

    Chaichana’s talk of ‘cultural pastimes’ strikes a chord with me. Thailand has a rich history; why mimic the West with casinos when we can innovate with our traditions?

    • EconMajor April 1, 2024

      Because ‘tradition’ doesn’t equal profit, at least not on the scale casinos do. The economic boost from casinos could transform Thailand’s economy.

      • HistoryBuff April 1, 2024

        At what cost, though? The social fabric of Thailand is at stake. Casinos tend to breed inequality and crime, not to mention the potential for addiction.

  3. NongKhai92 April 1, 2024

    Let’s not forget the tourism angle. Countries like Singapore have thrived by integrating casinos into their economy.

    • IsaanDancer April 1, 2024

      But we’re not Singapore. Thailand has a different culture and set of values. We should find our own path, not just copy others.

      • NongKhai92 April 1, 2024

        True, but looking at successful models isn’t about copying; it’s about learning and adapting what works for us.

  4. BangkokBarry April 1, 2024

    The idea of watering down our culture with casinos is unsettling. We should be focusing on highlighting what makes Thailand unique.

    • InvestorJoe April 1, 2024

      I see it differently. Casinos could actually help expose our culture to a whole new audience. It’s all about how you integrate them into the existing cultural framework.

  5. GreenThumb April 1, 2024

    Chaichana’s push against casinos is noble, but maybe we’re missing the bigger picture. Why not diversify? Have both traditional games and casinos, giving visitors and locals more choice.

  6. SapphireSky April 1, 2024

    What about the youth? Introducing casinos might lead to an increase in gambling addiction among younger Thais. Can’t overlook the potential harm in pursuit of profit.

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