Thai PM Touts Plans for Casinos, Nuclear Power in First TV Talk

Thai PM Touts Plans for Casinos, Nuclear Power in First TV Talk

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(Bloomberg) — Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin used his first monthly television address as the country’s leader to promote plans for legalizing casinos and building a nuclear power plant to curb illegal gambling and reduce electricity costs.

Casinos would bring gambling businesses under the government’s control, while a nuclear power plant would ease public dissent over high energy bills because of its lower generation costs, Srettha said in the recorded TV program. 

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“We have to admit that underground gambling is a serious problem and should be solved by legalizing,” Srettha said. “Nuclear power will need time to educate people because most don’t want the plant in their neighborhood.”

A majority of the country’s 500-member House of Representatives in March backed a study by a panel of lawmakers that favored the setting up of legalized casinos within large entertainment venues to attract high-spending tourists. It is estimated that the integrated entertainment complexes will help generate total tax revenue of 12 billion baht ($327 million) in the first year of operations, according to the government.

Thailand’s Finance Ministry plans to propose a draft bill to the cabinet within three to four weeks seeking to legalize the gambling establishments, according to Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat. The ministry has collected views from 16 related agencies, all of which agreed the casino complexes will boost the nation’s economic growth, he told the media on June 19.

Though most types of betting are illegal in Thailand — a majority Buddhist society — any opening of casinos will be in line with its recent embrace of a more liberal landscape to revive its tourism industry from the pandemic blow. In 2022, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis though it’s now moving to ban its recreational use. It also became the first in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriages after the senate last week approved the legislation.

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Nuclear power would also help Thailand achieve its net zero carbon emission pledge, Srettha said last month.

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