Thailand Billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont pleads for Gambling

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With the Singapore gambling market currently exploding, other countries around Asia are thinking about how they can grab a larger share of the market. Such is the case with certain people in Thailand – most notably their richest man, Dhanin Chearavanont.

While attending a 20th anniversary Thailand Securities and Exchange Commission event, Chearavanont talked about how much money Thailand is missing out on by not considering casino gambling. He began his speech by saying the following:

Singapore just opened a casino not long ago. Its income from gambling now ranks third in the world at about B170 billion (US$5.38 billion) a year. If Thailand opens casinos, I expect we’ll soon be number one in the world. People are offering us money to do it – why not accept? We have to face the facts, they’re there for all to see.

Of course, convincing Thailand residents that casinos are a good thing is a very tough sell because 90% of the country is Buddhist – a religion which preaches against the “evils” of gambling too much. In fact, a group of poker playing Buddhist monks were crucified in the media for their actions.

Nevertheless, Chearavanont is adamant about how much he thinks casino gambling could help Thailand’s economy. He knows a thing or two about business since he’s accumulated a US$7.4 billion fortune over his career! As for Chearavanont’s other advice, he told the Securities and Exchange Commission audience this:

I further propose that the government open casinos in tourism destinations such as Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, which will lure tourists into spending money. Don’t look at gambling as something evil – underground gambling in Thailand is everywhere, we have to accept it. When Thailand has no casinos, the players disappear to Las Vegas, Macau and countries on our borders.

It’s worth noting that Singapore has a very conservative culture. However, they were able to look past this and allow major corporations to build casinos in their country. Now they are poised to pass Vegas as the second largest casino destination in the world. It’s easy to envision Thailand being able to do the same one day if they allow casinos.

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