Too important for govt to decide alone


Legalising gambling dens required a full public hearing and a thorough study as the government could not make a decision without consulting the people, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said.


The premier said gambling was a major issue needing a people’s mandate.


He acknowledged a previous study on the pros of legalising gambling and the government had been receptive to the findings.


Mr Thaksin said the “reality” could not be overlooked, given huge foreign exchange losses because neighbouring countries operating casinos freely drew many Thai gamblers.


Legions of gambling dens were also scattered nationwide breeding mafia culture and corruption.


Mr Thaksin said many countries had brought casinos into the open so they could regulate them.


But he stressed no words should be put in his mouth that he endorsed legalising gambling dens.


Although research had pointed to advantages, an in-depth study was in order and needed before a decision could be made on whether to have public hearings.


Mr Thaksin said Chulalongkorn University had done research from the outset but the latest findings were released many years ago. There was a need to expand on existing research or start afresh to keep up with changing circumstances.


The government had paid close attention to underground businesses _ and gambling dens were only one part of that.


The Finance Ministry and the Government Lottery Office were trying to attract people into supporting legal lotteries so fewer would play the illegal lottery system and risk intimidation by bookies.


Mr Thaksin said the government would be willing to push through projects beneficial to the country even if they were met with some resistance.


Thaksin supports proposal to legalise Thai casinos


Aimed at reducing …