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Is Gambling Legal in Thailand?

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, it's not so much a question that comes up with any frequency as far as from a practical standpoint, but I do have people who ask me every few weeks it seems to come up whether or not gambling is legal in Thailand. And a sure answer to this question is yes but with many, many qualifications and restrictions.

So the short answer is yes, there is betting in Thailand that is allowed. Most notably, Thailand has one of the oldest lotteries in the world and the state lottery office here in Thailand does put on lottery quite frequently on a bi-monthly basis. I think twice a month if I'm not mistaken.

There is also, in a very limited capacity, horse racing in Thailand which dates back to the turn of the last century and there can be legal wagers placed in certain very limited context regarding horse racing. But that being said, aside from these two very limited sense of circumstances, for the most part there is no legal gambling in Thailand so there's nothing like a casino or something like this. And things like sports betting, both making these kinds of things are illegal as well.

That being said, there are certain ways in which certain limited ad hoc licenses for certain gaming activity can be obtained in very limited circumstances mostly with respect to small family gatherings made possible especially with funerals. Here in the Kingdom of Thailand, there are certain sort of gaming activities that come part and parcel with funerary rites and funeral processions, for lack of better term, basically the entire event is a funeral. You will see and it is possible to see certain very limited gaming license extended for like a day. There are also events which very occasionally come up where licensure of what's up otherwise to be deemed a gambling activity may be approved for a very, very limited circumstances.

Now while this is possible or be it rare and while there are narrow exceptions to the otherwise to the strong restrictions of gambling in Thailand such as mentioned horse racing and lotteries, notwithstanding these narrow exceptions the overall policy is one of restriction of gaming activity, of gambling activity and for that reason, it's not in frequent that one would hear of gambling dens being raided in Thailand or Bangkok specifically. Moreover, there are stories of folks who are just essentially playing what could be described in other jurisdictions as an innocent game of cards, may be a game that doesn't even really have a gambling aspect to it and those folks would be arrested on suspicion of gambling or gambling related charges.

So this being said, it's basically a good idea to consider gambling can be illegal in Thailand again with the exception of the lottery and act accordingly. So playing games of chance in the Kingdom can actually lead to full arrest, incarceration and before a final judgement is made generally speaking, on a first offense it's been my experience that you know they're not going to throw an individual into the slammer hall for playing a game of cards but it is an offense that has seen arrests, very notable arrests in certain jurisdictions of Thailand in the past three years for things which are considered to be rather petty offenses by sort of western legal standards but are considered very serious offenses here in Thailand. So for that reason, it's best to sort of think of gambling as effectively illegal and acting accordingly.