Kla Party leader Korn Chatikavanij has suggested that Thailand should legalise gambling and said doing so would not only help contain the spread of COVID-19 in illegal gambling dens more effectively but also generate more tax revenue.
Mr Chatikavanij, a former finance minister, was responding to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s plea on Wednesday for public cooperation in tackling illegal gambling, now seen as a major factor in the spread of COVID-19.
It was wrong from the beginning for the government to aim to make people stop gambling as a way of containing the spread of COVID-19, said Mr Korn in a Facebook post.
The government had better legalise gambling so the business can be regulated properly in terms of not only containing the virus’ spread but also getting gamblers to spend their money in legal casinos in the country rather than in casinos elsewhere, he said.
When legalised, casinos will pay taxes to the state, which the government could use to fund its policy for the public betterment, he said.
Pol Maj Gen Yingyos Thepchamnong, a spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, meanwhile insisted police are pursuing legal action against owners of the gambling dens recently busted.
Investigators are gathering evidence to back summonses or arrest warrants they may next seek against the people proved to be owners of the raided gambling dens, which have resulted in the transfers of several policemen in areas containing gambling houses.
The process didn’t end only with these officers being transferred away as suggested by some critics, he said.
Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda on Thursday told provincial governors via teleconference that they are responsible for suppressing illegal gambling in their provinces.
If more gambling dens are found and raided in their provinces, they will be held responsible for the presence of such illegal gambling houses.
Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of the opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party, said the prime minister should resign over his confession that he was unable to tackle illegal gambling.