How to promote betting and gambling in Thailand: 3SNET review

Publication date: 11 Jul 2022

Update from 11 July 2022:

Thailand has conducted a survey of local residents on their views on the legalization of gambling. According to the National Assembly’s emergency committee, more than 80% of those surveyed were in favour of opening casinos within the country.

Most said that the capital Bangkok could be the best place for a casino. Also, a majority believes that casinos should be located in shopping malls. Spas, massage parlours and bank branches were also among the top choices.

Recall that the EC (in charge of drafting a bill on legalization of gambling establishments in Thailand) is to submit all information to the chairman of the National Assembly on July 27. Earlier there was a proposal to open five casinos in the country, one in each of the five main regions of the country. Revenues from the casinos, which would be opened under concession agreements with private operators, are proposed to be taxed at a 30% tax rate.

Update from 15 June 2022:

On June 2, online sales of lottery tickets were organized for the first time in Thailand. A total of 2,460,723 lottery ticket transactions were made through the Paotang app by 612,141 residents.

Already in the middle of the month, the Government Lottery Office (GLO) of Thailand announced the launch of two more state lotteries. The measure relates to the launched campaign against illegal lotteries and the sale of tickets above 80 baht (the limit set by the state). There is also a special focus on ensuring that tickets are not sold to minors.

One of the new lotteries will be an updated version of the earlier state lottery where you had to guess 6 numbers. The second is set up along the lines of an illegal lottery popular in Thailand, with two or three numbers to choose from.

EARLIER:

Thailand has a reputation for being a very exotic and mysterious country. This even applies to the gambling sector. On the one hand, there is a total ban on all kinds of gambling and betting, on the other hand, Thais gamble so much and so often that their passion for gambling can be described as pathological. So, what is really going on, how beneficial is GEO: Thailand and how to make money on gambling and betting traffic from there? 

How is gambling regulated in Thailand? 

The first and only law regulating gambling in Thailand was passed in 1930 (2473 by local calculation*). It was amended slightly in 1935 but the essence is still the same: only state lottery is legal in the country. Another exception is the offline horse racing in Bangkok.

All types of betting and gambling are prohibited in Thailand. The current “Gambling Act B.E.2478 (1935)” contains a detailed list of prohibited games. Under the ban were all betting shops, betting on all types of sports, and sweepstakes. Apart from traditional casino card games, poker, roulette and bingo, even mahjong, dominoes, backgammon as well as billiards were banned.

  • There is also the Playing Cards Act (passed in 1943) in Thailand which prohibits the ownership of more than 120 playing cards. A larger number must be registered with the Excise Department of the Ministry of Finance. Playing cards is not allowed even at home with your friends. Under this law any officer can search any premises “between sunrise and sunset”. The production of playing cards is also controlled by the government: they are printed at the state Playing Card Factory.

Online casinos and betting shops as well are banned in Thailand. In 2007 a law was passed blocking all gambling and betting sites. Since 2020, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has been overseeing the sites and blocking them. 

However, experts note that it is difficult to meet the target and limit traffic to betting and gambling sites in Thailand, as such extensive filtering will result in low internet speeds across the country. 

Wondering how gambling is regulated in other countries around the world? Read “Gambling Asia: a unique environment for betting and gambling in Japan” in 3SNET’s Reviews

Any involvement in gambling (not just organizing!) can result in a considerable penalty or imprisonment and confiscation of property.  By law, the offender may also be required to pay a reward to a whistleblower who reports the fact of gambling. Punishment may also apply to tourists: fines, suspension of visa, expulsion from the country.  

Meanwhile, how to promote betting and gambling in Thailand? The fact is that even with the existing bans, there are many illegal land-based gambling establishments in the country where you can play gambling or place bets. These casinos and betting shops are not advertised or publicised, but there are such “secret rooms” in almost all hotels, bars and pubs. The situation is the same online: the ban is there, but so are the games.

Legal gambling in Thailand: how to play the Thai lottery

The only gambling game universally available in Thailand is the Thai GLO lottery.

Over 19 million Thais play it regularly, which is roughly 30% of the population.  Part of the profit (60%) goes to the payment of winnings, 28% – in favor of the state, 12% – on administrative costs. The local Red Cross and other charities are funded from the money raised from lottery ticket sales. People with disabilities are also involved in distributing tickets.

Drawings are held twice a month on the 1st and 16th and broadcast on TV from 3pm to 4pm. Tickets cost less than 80 baht**, and are sold only as “twin tickets” (meaning you can only buy 2 at once).

There are two types of lottery tickets – state and charity. They differ in the amount of winnings and the lottery tax:

  • for the state lottery the first prize is 6 million baht and the tax is 0.5%;
  • for the charity lottery, the first prize is 3 million baht and a 1% tax.

**In May 2022, 1 baht is equal to 1.83 roubles, 0.0289 US dollars or 0.0275 euros.

As is customary, the ticket is not taken at random, but based on the number. There are different systems for calculating “lucky” numbers as well as just “lucky” Buddhist numbers. One can see the winning number in a dream, find out on a special website or ask a monk. Luck, according to the Thais, is also related to death: the winning combination can be the date of death or another emergency. The prices of tickets with an auspicious combination can be more expensive. Choosing a ticket number and discussing it with friends and family is an important Thai tradition.

Furthermore, lotteries are endorsed by Buddhism: luck smiles on those who do good deeds. Buying a lottery ticket is also a way of helping the underprivileged.  

At the same time, there is an illegal lottery market in Thailand. Local experts estimate that the underground lottery has 5 times the volume of the legal lottery. A ticket costs less (about 20 baht), there are more chances to win and bigger prizes.

How to attract an audience from Thailand to casino and betting sites?

The Kingdom of Thailand is located in south-east Asia, with a population of over 66 million people. 

The main religion is Buddhism; it is practiced by more than 90% of the population. This fact significantly influences attitudes towards gambling: after all, they are one of the 4 evils (“portals of hell”) that lead to devastation. There is even a proverb: “Ten people who die in a fire is less than one who loses”.

What else from Thai culture is important when promoting betting and gambling?

  • The official language is Thai. It is spoken by the majority of the population; knowledge of English is not common. 
  • Thais live by the Buddhist solar calendar, where the year is calculated from the death of Buddha. Thus 2022 is the year 2565 of the Buddhist era. 
  • For the Thai people, there are some things that are sacred. They are the Buddha and monks, the mythical half-bird Garuda, officials and members of the royal dynasty. Thai money also demands exceptional respect, as it features the king! 

It’s amazing how, despite years of a total ban on gambling, Thais continue to find opportunities and gamble! They do so despite possible fines and even criminal penalties. 

The thing is that the prohibition has been in place for about 90 years, but the gambling traditions of the country have more ancient roots. More than 100 games can be found in Thailand’s history, cockfighting and bullfighting are traditional. In the 19th century games imported from China were added.

  • An interesting fact that confirms once again the gambling habits of Thais. During the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Thailand, some 7,000 people were arrested for betting. And only 250 of them were illegal bookmakers, the rest were just betting.

According to the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, Thai gamblers spend at least $32 million on online gambling every year. More than 1 billion baht ($32 million) passes through illegal casino and betting sites every year.

According to research, the number of Thai nationals who gamble is around 2.5 million. About a quarter of them are young men between 15 and 25 years old.

  • Gambling tourism is also very common in Thailand: there are many casinos in the border areas of Cambodia and Laos where Thais enjoy spending their time and money. 

They are not allowed, but they gamble anyway! Gambling is a traditional part of various ceremonies and festivals. There are even “funeral casinos” that offer games to entertain the deceased person. 

  • Thailand’s offline casinos use a local variety called “crybaby” (it’s the minimum bet, worth 100 baht) as tokens. You can use this too to attract players to casino sites! 

Thais are believed to be genetically more susceptible to alcohol. They are even more emotional and adventurous under the influence of alcohol. The organisers of illegal offline casinos are taking advantage of this by making the purchase of at least one alcoholic beverage compulsory in order to gain access to the games.

What kinds of sports are popular in Thailand?

Online betting is very common in Thailand. Football is hugely popular. Thai people are willing to bet on both local and world league games. This is so widespread that a few weeks before the World Cup, the Thai government even issues a special message reminding of the illegality of sports betting in the country. 

Thailand’s “local” sports also get a lot of attention among online betting visitors:  

  • Thai boxing or Muay Thai (“duel of the free”) has been popular in the country since the 16th century. There is even a professional holiday “Day of Thai Boxing” which is celebrated on February 6 (till 2012 – March 17). Although the day is a working day, there are competitions, festivals, and ceremonies all over the country.
  • Cockfighting in Thailand has existed for 700 years and is considered to be the most humane: animals are not fighting to death, spikes and other crippling equipment are not used. Betting on the winner is considered illegal, but there is a network of special stadiums throughout the country for thousands of spectators. 
  • Corrida, or bullfighting, where the battle is between two buffalos. The animals do not die; the winner is the one whose opponent has simply escaped or fallen. The fights are held in special arenas, most of them located in the south of the country and the island of Samui.
  • Boat races are traditionally held in September after the rainy season. Competitions are held on the Nan River, in Pathum Thani, Nakhon Phanom, Surat Thani and other provinces. Boats are made of long trees and the rowers are seated in two rows. Colourful fairs and festivals, with fruit and souvenir sales, are set up near the race venue.

Which casino games are popular with Thais?

  • Thai Roulette is a large canvas (not a circle like classical roulette) with indentations for numbers from 0 to 9 and multiple numbers to bet on. The winning digit is chosen with the ball, and the winning depends on how many bets you make. If one out of three wins, the bet increases by 10 times, if one out of four wins, the bet increases by 3 times and if one out of four wins, the bet increases by 2 times. 
  • Tai Prospects for legalising gambling and betting in Thailand
  • Businessmen and representatives of various communities have not abandoned attempts to legalise gambling in the country. 
  • Back in 2012, local billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont proposed legalising gambling following the example of Singapore. He said, “Underground gambling establishments are flourishing in the country, and legalisation of gambling, as well as the imposition of a tax, has been long in coming.” If casinos and bookmakers were allowed to operate legally, Thailand could rival Macau in terms of gambling revenue in a few years.
  • A variety of proposals are coming in almost all the time, from full legalisation of gambling and betting in Thailand to the opening of a local casino for foreigners only. In the past, all proposals remained at the dream stage and were rejected, but recently a change has begun. 
  • At the end of 2021, an emergency committee was set up under the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Thailand on the issue of opening an entertainment complex with a casino. It comprised 60 people – cabinet ministers and political parties’ representatives. If the decision to open Thailand’s first casino is made, it will probably be located in Bangkok. There may be restrictions on entry for locals: a certificate of permanent employment and income level must be provided in order to play. 
  • In May 2022, the first bill to legalise land-based casinos and online casinos was drafted in Thailand. If passed, the law would allow the authorities to collect taxes from license holders as well as determine penalties for illegal casino operators. 
  • The country is expected to generate about 1.5 trillion baht in revenue from the collection of taxes and fees for online casino registrations. Of the tax revenue, 10% will go to the Ministry of Finance, while the remaining 90% of the taxes will fund government social initiatives, including debt relief in the agricultural sector, student loans and skills development.
  • So, what’s in the result?! Sending traffic to gambling and betting in Thailand is tricky, but profitable. Officially all gambling and its advertising is banned, but in reality it works! However, things are moving towards legalisation and the first bill has already been drafted. So, maybe very soon it will be possible to offer online gambling in Thailand legally. 
  • In any case, the main value of Thailand is the people! It’s a vast, excitable, active audience that is ready to play and play! Don’t wait, visit GEO: Thailand right now. Choose your offers, pick your sources and creatives – we’re waiting for your quality traffic! is a game which involves betting on three dice combinations on a specially marked board.
  • Pok daeng and Sip them – Thai games that are similar to poker, players get to hold a different number of cards.
  • Fun tan is a game where bets are placed on the number of “beads” (or pebbles) left in the last slide after the dealer has randomly thrown an undetermined number of “beads” on the field with special markings.

Sources of traffic for casinos and bookmakers in Thailand online

Despite bans and official blocking of gambling resources, illegal online gambling and betting is flourishing. According to a report by the Asian Racing Federation (ARF) about 61% of online betting sites in Asia operate illegally. They either have no license at all or operate out of jurisdiction. Meanwhile, 39.75 billion of the total number of visits to gambling sites during the study period came from unregulated sites, accounting for 76% of the total traffic directed at gambling sites.

It is easy to promote betting and gambling in Thailand via the internet.  According to March 2022 data provided by Statista, the number of internet users in Thailand was nearly 59 million, representing 84% of the population. 

In 2020, the number of social media users in Thailand was around 52.63 million. This figure is projected to reach almost 60 million users by 2026. The average internet user in Thailand spends about 8.44 hours a day using the internet and two and a half hours using their social media platforms. The most popular platforms are Facebook*** and Youtube, followed by messenger Line, Instagram*** and Twitter. The penetration of TikTok users in Thailand is also high, and as of January 2021 it already accounted for almost 55% of the total population. There are local services that are also popular: Beetalk messenger, KlaiKlai travel guide, Skout dating app, burst time app. 

As of the fourth quarter of 2021, 98.6% of the population aged 25-34, 64.6% of Thais aged 50 and over were using the internet.

In 2020, mobile internet penetration in Thailand was around 73%. Its availability is steadily increasing, projected to reach 84% by 2026.

***Social networks Facebook and Instagram are recognised as extremist and banned in Russia.

Prospects for legalising gambling and betting in Thailand

Businessmen and representatives of various communities have not abandoned attempts to legalise gambling in the country. 

Back in 2012, local billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont proposed legalising gambling following the example of Singapore. He said, “Underground gambling establishments are flourishing in the country, and legalisation of gambling, as well as the imposition of a tax, has been long in coming.” If casinos and bookmakers were allowed to operate legally, Thailand could rival Macau in terms of gambling revenue in a few years.

A variety of proposals are coming in almost all the time, from full legalisation of gambling and betting in Thailand to the opening of a local casino for foreigners only. In the past, all proposals remained at the dream stage and were rejected, but recently a change has begun. 

At the end of 2021, an emergency committee was set up under the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Thailand on the issue of opening an entertainment complex with a casino. It comprised 60 people – cabinet ministers and political parties’ representatives. If the decision to open Thailand’s first casino is made, it will probably be located in Bangkok. There may be restrictions on entry for locals: a certificate of permanent employment and income level must be provided in order to play. 

In May 2022, the first bill to legalise land-based casinos and online casinos was drafted in Thailand. If passed, the law would allow the authorities to collect taxes from license holders as well as determine penalties for illegal casino operators. 

The country is expected to generate about 1.5 trillion baht in revenue from the collection of taxes and fees for online casino registrations. Of the tax revenue, 10% will go to the Ministry of Finance, while the remaining 90% of the taxes will fund government social initiatives, including debt relief in the agricultural sector, student loans and skills development.

So, what’s in the result?! Sending traffic to gambling and betting in Thailand is tricky, but profitable. Officially all gambling and its advertising is banned, but in reality, it works! However, things are moving towards legalisation and the first bill has already been drafted. So, maybe very soon it will be possible to offer online gambling in Thailand legally. 

In any case, the main value of Thailand is the people! It’s a vast, excitable, active audience that is ready to play and play! Don’t wait, visit GEO: Thailand right now. Choose your offers, pick your sources and creatives – we’re waiting for your quality traffic!

 

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