Despite Thailand having strict laws against most forms of gambling, it is a hugely popular activity among Thai people and many Thai residents have started heading online to place real money bets at casinos and sports betting sites. We have done our best to decipher Thailand’s online gambling laws to explain to our readers whether online gambling is legal in Thailand.
Online casino sites accepting players from Thailand
Overview of Thailand’s gambling laws
The Thai government takes gambling very seriously, with all forms of gambling deemed illegal except for the national lottery and betting on horse racing at Bangkok’s thoroughbred tracks. The presiding piece of legislation is the Gambling Act of B.E. 2478 of 1935, which not only excludes most forms of gambling but also imposes punishments for individuals who participate in gambling activities, with penalties including fines and imprisonment. The most severe penalties are for those found placing wagers on games involving animals (cock fighting, dog fighting, etc) which are deemed as torture and can carry a three year prison sentence.
Despite gambling being vehemently outlawed, an underground gambling industry thrives in Thailand, with an estimated 70% of the adult population placing bets with unlicensed bookies and underground lottery rings. In fact, the underground lottery system in Thailand was so prevalent that the government finally introduced the official, legal national lottery in 2003 in a bid to eradicate the illegal activity. Regardless, the underground lottery is still estimated to be more popular than the national lottery, and with government officials (including the Prime Minister) accused of skimming billions from lottery revenue, any hopes of Thailand having a legal, above-board and regulated gambling industry anytime soon are highly unlikely.
Is online gambling legal in Thailand?
There is nothing in Thailand’s Gambling Act that specifically mentions the Internet, but with all forms of casino gambling, including card games, table games and games of luck, strictly forbidden under Thai law it is safe to assume that online gambling also falls under this legislation and is therefore considered illegal.
The government of Thailand does not issue licenses for any operators to offer online gambling services to its residents, and businesses who offer gambling services or citizens who gamble online face the possibility of prosecution. The government also runs an internet censorship program which aims to block online gambling operators, although many websites fall under the radar and are easily accessed by Thai players, especially with the use of a VPN (virtual private network).
Online casinos accepting Thai players
Despite Thailand’s strict stance against gambling, many offshore casino sites continue to service the Thai market, offering real money casino games to Thai players and a rare few even offering services in Thai language. As these casinos are hosted in countries where the Thai government has no jurisdiction, there is little that can be done to prosecute Thai players who frequent these sites, although it’s not without risks. Thailand citizens who choose to gamble online are doing so at their own risk and face punishment if caught. It is up to the individual to understand the online gambling laws that apply to them and we do not endorse gambling for Thai nationals.
If players choose to ignore the laws and play at offshore casino sites, they should stick with reputable operators who are legally licensed by leading international jurisdictions with regulations in place to protect players. There are plenty of rogue operators hoping to scheme Thai gamblers out of their hard-earned money, so it’s important to steer clear of unregulated, unlicensed sites. Never play at a casino site claiming to be licensed in Thailand as it is definitely operating illegally and should be avoided at all costs.
THB deposit options
Although many international casino sites accept Thai players, it is unlikely an offshore operator will accept payments using THB, instead requiring all THB deposits to go through an automatic currency conversion process into a widely accepted currency like USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD or NZD. The deposit options accepted vary between each casino site, but Bitcoin is becoming popular for online players who enjoy the anonymity of sending real money over the Internet without the interactions of a centralised bank.
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