Police officers in Thailand have been very busy recently, cracking down on illegal underground gambling machines. The Bangkok Post reported on April 6 that the 5th Infantry Regiment task force had seized 159 slot machines in the country’s Sadao district.
The illegal machines were found in two shops, along with other gambling machine parts. Along with the seizure, two men were detained for questioning. No gambling was happening in the houses, it appears. The machines were waiting there before they would be shipped off to other locations in the country.
The police received a tip off that the slots were smuggled in from the Ban Dan Nok border checkpoint, which is a connection between Thailand and Malaysia.
Casino gambling, like on slot machines, has been completely illegal in Thailand since the Gambling Act of 1935. As a result, the only way citizens could legally gamble, if they wished to, would be to travel for their entertainment, with casinos in Cambodia being the nearest option.
That’s total prohibition has kept Thai law enforcement busy playing whack-a-mole, as the black market has grown and thrived despite the prohibition. They’ve had to respond to illegal online offerings promoted on social media, and arrested thousands last year in the excitement, and gambling fervor, of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
As a method of advertising some of these gambling operations, attractive women had taken to social media to promote sites and make a few bucks. Dubbed “net pretties,” Thai police also cracked down on them, bring potentially thousands in for questioning.
The Thai prohibition on gambling doesn’t look to be nearing an end anytime soon. As more experienced regulators have argued, stringent laws, or in this case, a total ban, on gambling only helps to bolster the black market, where customers are provided even less protection and the state has no oversight of the activities. Thailand might hate gambling, but they are actively hurting their population by forcing the activity totally underground.