Thai junta gets tough on World Cup gambling

admin   •   June 24, 2014   •   2120

Thai students play football with elephants at a school in Thailand’s Ayutthaya province June 9, 2014. The match was held as part of a campaign to promote the 2014 World Cup and also to discourage gambling during the competition. – Reuters pic, June 23, 2014.

(Reuters) – Thailand’s military leaders are cracking down on illegal gambling, which is forecast to soar during the World Cup, as part of a campaign to clean up the country and restore its image.

The national police force said on Monday it had arrested 1,677 people involved in World Cup betting from June 9 to 21 and shut down 675 illegal gambling websites.

“Thais are quite addicted to gambling and the World Cup is a period when gambling spikes,” Anucha Romyanan, deputy police spokesman told Reuters.

“People are still trying to access gambling websites so we’re locating those websites and shutting them down.”

Apart from horse racing and the national lottery, most forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand, including casinos and Internet wagering.

But gambling remains a popular national pastime. Many Thais cross the border to play in Cambodian casinos, while others bet illegally on sports such as ‘Muay Thai’, or Thai boxing.

Thais are expected to spend around 45 billion baht ($1.4 billion) on World Cup betting, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

“This tournament only happens every four years, so Thais take advantage of the occasion,” said Thanawat Polvichai, director of the university’s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting.

“People’s salaries are higher than four years ago and soccer betting has become easier due to higher Internet penetration,” he told Reuters.

The junta, which took power in a bloodless coup last month, has embarked on a campaign to “clean up society”, cracking down on activities such as drug-taking and gambling. It has also pursued foreigners working in Thailand illegally.

That helped spark an exodus of more than 200,000 Cambodian migrant laborers from Thailand over the past two weeks.

The junta denies it is targeting foreign workers, who are vital for industries such as fishing and construction, saying it is merely trying to regulate the migrant workforce.

The clean-up campaign extends to Buddhist monks after a series of high-profile misconduct cases in recent years, including that of Wirapol Sukphol, the “jet-setting monk”, who was defrocked after a YouTube video showed him on a private jet sporting aviator sunglasses and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag.

Around 95 percent of Thailand’s population is Buddhist and religion is considered an essential pillar of society, but junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha says the country has lost its moral compass and he wants to “return morality to Thailand”.

Last week, the National Office of Buddhism set up a hotline for the public to inform on errant monks. ($1 = 32.3500 Thai Baht)

(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Editing by Alan Raybould and Ron Popeski)

Thailand’s Pattaya plans to reopen to tourists, no quarantine requirements

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — One of Thailand’s favorite vacation hotspots is planning to reopen to tourists in the last quarter of the year, without requiring visitors to undergo mandatory quarantine.

In a Facebook post by the National News Bureau of Thailand, Pattaya Mayor Sontaya Kunplome said the decision is part of the “Pattaya, Move on” project

It is also working on having more COVID-19 vaccine doses to vaccinate at least 70% of local residents.

The mayor said foreign tourists who have received two vaccine doses will be allowed to enter Pattaya without the need to quarantine for 14 days.

However, they must stay in Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts for seven days before traveling elsewhere in the province.

He added that only tourists from countries considered low risk of COVID-19 infection declared by the Public Health Ministry will be allowed.

They must receive vaccines and endorsed by their countries by no longer than one year before travel to Pattaya.

The mayor said the project will be implemented under standard operating procedures for international arrivals which include COVID-19 testing and guidelines for sealed routes.

Proposals for the reopening of the province to tourists will be presented to the Public Health Ministry and then endorsed next month to Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration for approval.

Immigration Bureau arrests 36 foreign nationals during illegal gambling operations

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) arrested 36 foreign nationals during a massive illegal gambling operation at the Double Dragon Plaza Tower 3 in Pasay City on Monday (April 19).

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, they received reports of foreign nationals working without appropriate permits.

An investigation was conducted and has verified that the company is unlicensed and is not authorized to operate.

The 36 foreigners consist of 2 Chinese nationals, 2 Indonesians, and 32 Koreans.

BI Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. reported that the company was discovered to be engaged in illegal live studio gambling.

“Apart from the live studio, they were also conducting illegal and clandestine online gaming operations,” he said.

“We initially rounded up 40 individuals but found 4 of them to be sufficiently documented, being permanent residents in the country. However, the other 36 were unable to present their passports and visas, and were caught in the act of working illegally,” he added.

Morente warned illegal aliens not to commit illegal activities.

“We call on all foreigners to legalize your stay,” said Morente. “Do not take advantage of the pandemic, because despite the challenges, our work never stops, and we will continue to arrest, deport, and blacklist any alien who dares to disobey our laws,” he warned. AAC

More than 3,000 people flee to Thailand after Myanmar’s army air strikes villages

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 29, 2021

More than 3,000 people in Myanmar have crossed to Thailand to take refuge after the Burma Army launched air strikes on Myanmar’s southeastern Karen state.

According to Karen Women’s Organization (KWO), the military launched night-time airstrikes on Day Bu No Village, Lu Thaw Township, Mu Traw District on March 27, killing three civilians and injuring seven others.

The KWO, an indigenous women’s organization, has condemned the said attacks and expressed fear as more attacks will soon be launched on other villages.

“Many villagers are now hiding in terror in the jungle, and more than 3,000 have crossed to Thailand to take refuge,” the KWO said.

The organization also calls for call for a UN Security Council resolution to prevent further mass atrocities.

“Burma’s security forces must be held accountable for their crimes. Diplomats and governments must stop giving legitimacy to this murderous regime. It’s clear the Burma Army leaders are not capable of change nor are they open to any dialogue to stop the violence,” the organization said.

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