Philippines Casino Resorts: A Model for Thailand’s Gambling Industry?
A big game-changer and a big investor, Megaworld Corporation is spending P20 billion in San Lazaro Tourism and Business Park in Manila in the Philippines. They are building a modern casino resort which will be the next significant development in the gaming industry.
The government is attempting to boost foreign investment and tourism, which are essential for economic growth. It is expected that the proposed casino resort will create a large number of jobs and increase foreign travel to the Philippines. Moreover, it will help place the nation as a prominent player in the global gambling market, competing with gambling destinations like Macau and Las Vegas. But what about the Thai casino industry? How does the Philippines’ casino investment plan compare to Thailand’s own casino industry?
Thailand’s Stand on Gambling
As gambling is now largely prohibited in Thailand, there aren’t any licensed casinos operating on the market. The only exception is the Thailand state lottery and horse race betting, which are authorized by the government. Nevertheless, with the growing popularity of online gambling, players can still access Thai online casinos. The government is putting a lot of effort into advocating the development of legal casinos that may benefit the nation’s economy. However, a large proportion of the public is still worried about the possible social issues that could result from increased gaming.
Supporters argue that having legal casinos would bring significant economic benefits to the country, increase revenue and create job opportunities. It would also boost the existing tourism economy by offering visitors another sort of entertainment.
Those objecting to legalizing gambling argue that it presents a social risk as gambling addiction might cause financial and psychological issues for individuals and their families. Some people are also concerned that casinos might turn into a hotspot for criminal operations like money laundering and organized crime.
Casino Laws and Beliefs
The Playing Cards Act of 1943 and the Gambling Act of 1935 forbid casinos and gambling in Thailand. These regulations make it illegal to participate in or promote gambling activities and explicitly prohibit most games that include wagering. Another reason why casinos are outlawed in Thailand is the nation’s cultural and religious convictions. The nation’s most widely practiced religion Theravada Buddhism considers gambling as a sin that can cause addiction, loss of faith, and financial disaster.
Gambling Opportunities in Sight
Thailand is trying to use the Philippines’ experience with Integrated Resorts as a way to legalize casinos and other types of gambling in the near future. The initiative could potentially convince the public that a well-planned and controlled casino business can bring large investments, boost tourism and stimulate the economy.
The House of Representatives has already approved a proposal to build five resorts with integrated casinos in the next few years. They require additional research on the potential revenue for the country in order to make a final decision, but things are definitely moving in that direction.
The proposal states that 5% of the resort area will be reserved for an integrated casino, leaving a significant amount of space for additional amenities and attractions for tourists. These could include hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, wellness and fitness centers, theme parks, and other forms of entertainment.
The five most popular tourist cities in Thailand have been chosen as the perfect locations for the proposed developments. Bangkok and other seaside destinations will offer tourists more diverse entertainment that will include the services of a casino floor. Tourists and domestic citizens aged 21 and over will be permitted to enter the casino and participate in games of chance. Local players, however, will be subject to certain limitations and must present evidence of their financial stability along with sufficient funds in order to gamble.
The special House Committee that prepared the proposal also estimates that the integrated casino business will bring approximately $11bn of revenue if the tax is set at 30% for the operator. Other benefits include taxes collected from individual winnings and the additional positive impact they will have on the economy.
The integrated resorts will open new job opportunities that will help the local economy. They will attract more tourists and make them spend more money in the country. Most importantly, they will engage local players and prevent the outflow of funds to other countries.
Despite the numerous challenges posed by legalizing casinos and regulating the gambling market, Thailand is persevering to find a successful solution. It appears that the introduction of resorts with integrated casinos, offering a variety of entertainment, will open the industry up to domestic players and attract more tourists. The anticipated economic benefits and positive impact in the coming years are expected to be substantial.
Emirates Forward Bookings Remain Robust on Strong Customer Demand
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Chief Commercial Officer of Emirates, Mr Adnan Kazim, has said the airline’s forward bookings have remained robust amid a strong customer demand, spurring the company to ramp up its operations across continents.
According to him, in the past months, the airline has planned and executed the rapid growth of its network operations, reintroducing services to five cities, launching flights to one new destination (Tel Aviv), and adding 251 weekly flights onto existing routes and continuing the roll-out of service enhancements in the air and on the ground.
It was disclosed that Emirates has continued to scale up its A380 operations with the reintroduction of the iconic double-decker across its network: Glasgow (from 26 March), Casablanca from (15 April), Beijing (from 01 May), Shanghai (from 04 June), Nice (from 1 June), Birmingham (from 1 July), Kuala Lumpur (from 01 August), and Taipei (from 01 August).
“Emirates is working hard on several fronts – to bring back operating capacity as quickly as the ecosystem can manage while also upgrading our fleet and product to ensure our customers always enjoy the best possible Emirates experience.
“So far, four of our A380 aircraft have been completely refurbished with our new cabin interiors and Premium Economy seats, and more will enter service as our $2 billion cabin and service enhancement program picks up pace,” Mr Kazim added.
He noted that in the coming months, established routes to Europe, Australia and Africa would be served with more Emirates flights, while in East Asia, more cities are seeing route restarts.
Emirates had upcoming route enhancements by regions, including in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, East Asia, as well as in Africa which covers Cairo: from 25 to 28 weekly flights by 29 October; Dar es Salaam: from 5 flights a week to daily flights starting 01 May and Entebbe: from 6 flights a week to daily flights starting 01 July.
Mozambique Okays Visa Exemption for 28 Countries, Snubs Nigeria
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
A number of African countries are focusing on promoting extensively inbound tourism. They are luring potential external investors to the tourism industry.
The latest in the southern African region is Mozambique, which has approved a visa exemption for 28 countries for tourism and business.
As the Council of Ministers approved the decree in mid-March, the exemption applies to visitors holding ordinary passports and allows for a 30-day stay, renewable to an additional 60 days.
The model adopted by the Mozambican government is similar to the United States visa waiver program in the sense that it requires travellers to register on a platform for pre-screening at least 48 hours before travelling and to pay a processing fee of MZN-650 (equivalent £8.50).
In the list released, Nigeria, which prides itself as the giant of Africa and the largest economy on the continent, was missing.
The approved countries for this programme are Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The visa exemption is a follow-up to the launch of a platform last December that allowed prospective visitors to apply for an electronic pre-authorization to travel into the country. The introduction of e-visas has seen an increase of over 30 per cent in the number of travellers entering the country compared to the same period in the previous year.
The e-visa platform commits the country to respond to applications within five days, but general feedback places an average response at 24 hours, and the few issues reported are usually created by users not uploading the required documentation.
President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, since August 2022, has taken steps containing 20 reform measures aimed at delivering to visitors and potential investors a path for a more competitive and more accessible country. Mozambique, with an approximate population of 30 million, is one of the 16-member Southern African Development Community.
Foreign Airlines Unable to Repatriate $743.7m from Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that foreign airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria have risen to over $743.7 million.
In a letter dated March 14, 2023, and signed by the Area Manager for West and Central Africa, Dr Samson Fatokun, it was disclosed that the blocked funds rose from $549 million in December 2022 and $662 million in January to $743.7 million.
IATA noted that for over a year, Nigeria had been the country with the highest amount of airlines’ blocked funds in the world.
According to the association, the increasing backlog of international airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria is a potential threat to foreign direct investment into the country and could affect the operations of airlines leading to job losses.
While appealing to the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, to intervene in resolving the issues, the association also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to clear all airlines blocked funds before leaving office.
Meanwhile, at a meeting with the IATA and foreign airlines operators in Abuja to discuss the issues, Mr Sirika said the issue of blocked funds sits with the Central Bank of Nigeria and is not what the ministry can handle alone.
He urged international airline operators to be very considerate when dealing with the issues bearing in mind the effects of COVID-19 and the recession the country had experienced.
Recall that in August 2022, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, Mr Kamil Alawahdi, expressed his disappointment with Nigeria over the amount of airline money blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government, which was around $464 million then.
“IATA is disappointed that the amount of airline money blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government grew to $464 million in July.
“This is airline money, and its repatriation is protected by international agreements in which Nigeria participates. IATA’s many warnings that failure to restore timely repatriation will hurt Nigeria with reduced air connectivity are proving true with the withdrawal of Emirates from the market,” he said.
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