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Thailand Looking to Legalize Sports Gambling

4 November 2003

THAILAND – As reported by the Thai Business Day: "The Government Lottery Office said it is looking for feasible ways of launching a legal football gambling business in Thailand, aiming to eliminate illegal betting desks which are now gaining more popularity among Thai fans.

"Somchainuk Engtrakul, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the chairman of the Government Lottery Office's board of directors, admitted that the value of the underground football betting business in Thailand is nearly as much as 100 billion baht a year, much higher than that of the underground lottery business.

"However, he said, the in-trend business can not be operated immediately since there are many regulations and processes to be followed. A special working committee has been set up by the office to carefully carry out a feasibility study on the football betting project, he added.

"…If the government really wants to go forward with this project, he added, the Government Lottery Office believes it will take about a one year period before the project would be operational since staff training courses are also required.

"Illegal football booking is a fast growing business and coupled with a lack of serious control from related government agencies, a huge number of illegal booking desks have widely emerged, he said. In addition the income from such under ground businesses falls into influential peoples' hands and it has been used to build up the funds of some politicians.

"Because of these reasons, Somchainuk said, the Government Lottery Office thinks it should become the operator of football bookmaking since the income will be used for the public's benefit in the same way as the two and three digit legal lottery is being run at the moment…"

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