Study Reveals Truth behind Thailand’s Gambling Addiction

Study Reveals Truth behind Thailand’s Gambling Addiction

- in Featured

The article “Study reveals truth behind Thailand’s gambling addiction,” August 16, 2013, The Nation, revealed a startling fact about the country’s gambling addiction based on the Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute study led by Dr Pinij Larpthananon, a researcher at the institute.

It [the study] was conducted on 5,042 respondents of at least 15 years old from 16 provinces and discovered that 64.2% of the people had gambled in 2012 and more than 63% started gambling when they’re under 24 years old, a 7-yr old  being the youngest.

Additionally, it also looked into the forms of gambling practiced and turned out underground lottery remains on top (Bt100 billion/yearly estimated capital) with almost 20 million gamblers and followed by 19,211,727 gamblers of the state-sponsored lottery (Bt76.77 billion/yearly estimated capital).

Ranked 3rd to 5th on famous gambling forms, opposite their estimated number of gamblers, are illegal gambling dens, 3,125,705, football betting 1,067,418, and local sports 883,592.

Phongsathon Chantharassami, Information Centre for Gambling Control Policy’s manager told that law enforcement was the solution in fighting illegal gambling but stated its efforts were ineffective and obsolete, mentioning that only 3,988 gambling-related arrests were made by the police in the first half of 2013.

Non-stop raids are conducted across the country.

Unfortunately, a few authorities, themselves, are being caught involved in the illegal activities.

In a recent article on November 19, 2016, Bangkok Post, “Five officers transferred after Lat Krabang gambling bust” Police Lt. Gen Sanit Mahathavorn, Metropolitan Bureau Chief said that the officers’ are transferred to the division’s operation center while the investigation about the raid was under way.

[The raid busted a high-low dice game taking place, seized THB 213,720, 6 computers for football betting, dice and 2 CCTV cameras and rounded up Peerapong Wianghok, the warehouse’s caretaker, and 95 gamblers].


Emerging Thailand Gambling Addiction Demographics

Gambling addiction, as it turned out, isn’t only an adult but also a youth gambler problem in Thailand, as an article “Gambling addiction rises among Thai youths” revealed.

The “Gambling Trend in Transition Period,” an academic seminar, jointly hosted by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and the Thai National Health Foundation shared its findings.

The academic study, with 7,018 participants aged 15-26 years old, from 26 provinces, with 11 children samples age only 7 years old, found out that card games, fish, prawn crab dice game and lotteries are favorite games.

Faculty of Economics of Chulalongkorn University’s Prof Nualnoi Trirat, the director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies, said that 60% of the respondents started gambling when they were under 20, with most popular games included state-sponsored lotteries, underground lotteries and football-betting games.

Another imminent trend, as discovered by the study, showed that football gambling is now an emerging sport betting game in the Thai society.

[The same article, on May 11, 2016, revealed that more 1.9 million Thais were into football gambling, with 500,000 female gamblers and generated THB130 billion in 2015, according to the Centre for Gambling Studies.]

On that note, let’s look into women gambling addicts, briefly.

Based on “Thai Women and Gambling,” as published by the FACTS AND DETAILS, 60% of female Thais admitted to football betting, and 62.5% of the 1000 female respondents reported gambling while being aware it could create  social issues and it was illegal, based on an ABAC survey reported to the Bangkok Post.

The same survey revealed 40.6% of the female gamblers admitted to gambling when they were under 20 years old.

Assumption University’s Business Research Centre that conducted a poll, a couple of days before the European Championships 2012, on 1000 women and found out that 54% considered football betting as a norm and 25% revealed placing bets in the last 12 months. Finally, it [the survey] also revealed that 55% of the female gamblers play for fun and a mere 0.6% for money.

Gambling Status in Thailand

  • Legal: Bet on horseracing games and national lottery
  • ILLEGAL: All other forms, including online casino gambling­

Contrarily, illegal gambling is a big business – think underground lottery.

The underground gambling industry, based on an estimate, generates USD$6 billion in annual revenues more than what the national lottery earns with an estimated THB 76.77B.

คาสิโนออนไลน์ is also prohibited. The government doesn’t license and allow internet-gambling websites to operate and to b­e hosted in the country.

But despite the ban, Thai gamblers still participate in the illegal activity using foreign-hosted gambling websites, where the government has no control over and jurisdiction to, meaning it cannot stop Thai players from playing casino games online.

[Currently, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology blocks access to such websites and a state agency it controls red flag phone numbers, which register heavy use during poker tournaments in an attempt to check if they’re used in gambling].

Thailand is 1 of the 3 ASEAN countries along with Indonesia and Brunei without legal casinos.

The Thai government losses tax revenue, which could have been collected from millions of Thai players playing in the Cambodia and Laos borders and from half of Thai adults gambling in the underground lottery or illegal casinos.

The article “With King Bhumibol Gone, Thailand Could Reconsider Casino Legalization,” however, revealed a new government could green light casino gambling following the death King Bhumibol Adulyadej and casino proponents were hoping to get the casinos back over the borders for tax revenues, such as an entry tax – a model used by  Singapore for its local players.



·        64.2% gambled in 2012 and 63% started gambling when they’re under 24 years old, with 7 years old being the youngest, Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute study, based on 5,042 samples
·        Top gambling forms: underground lottery, 19,923,643 gamblers; state-sponsored lottery, 19,211,727; gambling dens, 3,125,705; football betting 1,067,418 and local sports 883,592


·        3,988 gambling-related arrests were made by the police in the first half of 2013
·        1.9 million Thais were into football gambling, 500,000 of which are female gamblers. The game generated THB130 billion in 2015.
·        60% of female Thais admitted to football betting;
·        62.5% reported gambling even if it could create social issues and illegal;
·        40.6% of the female gamblers gambled when they were under 20 years old;
·        54% considered football betting as a norm;
·        25% revealed placing bets in the last 12 months;
·        And 55% of the female gamblers play for fun and a mere 0.6% for money

Lessons Learned….

With chaos all over the place – underground gambling and gambling addiction – the government might have to look into its current gambling law for two reasons,

1) To regain what it is losing from the gambling taxes that other countries are c0llecting from Thai gamblers

2) And to have control over its people who could have been kept from addiction had a ‘proper regulation’ been in place (more rehab facilities, counseling, age restrictions…)

The strict stance of the government against gambling sends it packing underground and gamblers losing control.

They lost tax revenues, which could have been used for the country’s development and the people’s welfare.

They lost control of the gambling addicts who are at some points commit crimes, drown in debts and become a social and family problem for their out-0f-control gambling behavior.

Bottom line, keeping gambling illegal is a “lose-lose” solution for the government and probably not a good route to take.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *