The real history of gambling in Thailand

As with most South East Asia, Thailand has a long, somewhat troubled history of gambling with the earliest reports mentioning games of chance dating back to the 10th century.  A Chinese game of bean guessing is accredited as one of the earliest games of chance, which found its way to Thai shores.  By the 15th century, the Thai’s love of gambling was already a well-documented fact and  perhaps this led to gambling dens throughout the provinces being made legal by King Rama III (1824-51), although the temptation to secure vast sums of money through taxation could have overridden any matter of principle.

Now that gambling houses were permitted by law, Thailand experienced a surge of gambling related bankruptcies and criminal activities.  In an attempt to combat the misuse of the ceramic tokens produced by Chinese gambling dens in the capital of Bangkok (which began being used as cash), their designs were changed on a regular basis to prevent forgeries.  However, the lure of gambling – and potentially winning life-changing sums of money became too great for the Thai people, with a large proportion of the population becoming addicted to gambling (now a modern day issue with online casinos such as M88bet).   Recognising this, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) (1868-1910), decreed that gambling was prohibited and gambling dens within the country were closed down.

Within fifty years, a modern Thai government tried again, and legalised gambling in order to generate tax revenue.  This time, however, the government took complete control over the casinos rather than allowing private individuals and organisations to have any ownership.  The government also imposed stringent restrictions on who were allowed to enter their casinos – denying the ordinary Thai access to this form of legalised gambling, by only allowing wealthier citizens admittance.  In practice however, this restriction failed spectacularly; as it became almost impossible to enforce.  The cycle of financial crisis, increased crime rates and social degradation repeated itself, and the Thai media demanded that all casinos were closed once again. 

Nowadays, gambling such as online gambling with M88 or sbobet is still illegal with two exceptions.  The first is the state-run lottery, and the second is horse-race betting.  Having said that, the Thai people are nothing if not persistent; and many simply hop on a boat to cross the border with Burma where they can find plenty of casinos willing to take their money.  In recent years, the issue of legalising gambling in Thailand has raised its head again, but with the topic inciting strong feelings at both ends of the scale – it’s hard to see whether this will happen.  Irrespective, Thai’s have proven time and again that they are a true gambling people – illegal or not, gambling is a huge underground industry within and without its borders.