ATTRACTING TOP CASINO OPERATORS

However, if Mr Srettha wants to inaugurate an entertainment complex within his term, he will have to look beyond Bangkok.

Chiang Mai in the north or Rayong, about a 50-minute drive from Pattaya on the east coast, would be more realistic for a pilot project. Khlong Toei’s redevelopment is likely to span over a decade, echoing the extensive timeline taken for the realisation of Marina Bay.

Nevertheless, even with a later development schedule, the Khlong Toei licence might still be the first to be tendered. Thailand might adopt Singapore’s approach of auctioning concessions sequentially from the most to the least attractive.

This ensures that each licence attracts a strong pool of bidders, maximising competition and value, something Japan crucially overlooked. Without clear guidelines, Japanese prefectures scrambled to plan and schedule their selection processes, inadvertently pitting them against each other to attract casino operators.

Public opposition to legalised casino gambling has been relatively subdued thus far. Using Singapore’s model as a benchmark, Thailand is also looking at introducing similar social safeguards, such as entry fees for Thai citizens and limiting the casino area to 5 per cent of the resort.

There remains some lingering scepticism in the investor community about Thailand’s ability to establish and enforce a robust regulatory framework – crucial for attracting top casino resort operators from the United States, who are bound by regulatory requirements to invest only in jurisdictions with stringent regulatory and compliance standards.

But what is clear is that there is political will across the parties to make it happen.

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