Thailand is officially a very anti-gambling nation. I say “officially” because even though there may be strict laws against gambling, the activity is widespread in Thailand. People do it all the time with their friends, underground casinos and local bookies. The laws offer little in the way of deterrence.
Thai gaming laws do not specifically mention online gambling but they could easily be interpreted to include placing bets over the internet. However, Thai authorities seem more intent on catching those who operate illicit gambling dens in the real world than trying to figure out who might be placing a few bets online at any of the many Thailand betting sites that operate from other countries.
Best Thai Betting Sites
The safest way to gamble for real money in Thailand is to stick to the two forms of betting that are legal in the country: horse racing betting and the national lottery. Every other form of gaming is outlawed in Thailand. In fact, it’s even illegal to manufacture, purchase or possess decks of playing cards. The laws may be restrictive, but Thais love a good gamble nonetheless.
The second-safest way to bet in the country is to do it online with offshore betting websites. Taking your gambling to the internet is much safer than visiting underground casinos in Thailand. Not only is it safer, but you’ll also get better odds. My favorite Thai betting sites are listed above.
There are several advantages to doing business with overseas casinos. First, they are legal where they operate and are about a thousand times safer than doing business with some shoddy, temporary illegal website based out of someone’s basement in Thailand.
Additionally, foreign casino sites cannot be raided by Thai authorities. They operate under a completely different set of laws in their home countries. What they offer is 100% legal where they reside. The risk of your money being confiscated drops to almost zero when you play at a big name site based out of a gambling-friendly nation.
The third advantage to betting at these sites is they are licensed by government regulators. They are tested for fairness and must meet strict financial requirements before even being considered for a license. Compare that to some shady gaming site that operates inside Thailand where there are zero player protections and the choice is obvious: offshore is better.
The Gaming Laws of Thailand
Thailand’s gambling laws derive from a patchwork of edicts and anti-gambling legislation. The government takes a strict approach to banning all forms of gambling. Physical casinos, sportsbooks, poker clubs and online betting sites in Thailand are all outlawed. The Thai government does not regulate any of these forms of gambling and it offers no protections for players.
The published laws of gambling in Thailand provide for monetary fines, confiscation of gambling materials and prison sentences up to three years in length for anyone caught participating in gambling or organizing illegal gambling games.
The punishments for being caught as a mere gambler are more minor than those for being involved in the business of illegal betting. Individual gamblers can be fined up to 1,000 baht and imprisoned as long as a year. Those who organize their own games or violate other laws such as selling lottery tickets for too much money can face larger fines and as long as three years in prison.
Most of the gaming laws in Thailand are severely outdated and make no mention of the internet. However, it is clearly illegal to operate or own Thai betting sites. This is evidenced by the willingness of the police to track down and arrest anyone involved in hosting illegal games, whether they occur in the real world or over the internet.
What isn’t as clear is how those laws apply to individual citizens placing bets over the internet. The laws could theoretically be applied to such players, but Thai authorities appear to focus their efforts on breaking up real-world gambling rings.
It isn’t just criminal law that applies to betting in Thailand. Contract law also states that gambling contracts are unenforceable. What this means is if you accept a wager from someone and that person refuses to pay, there is nothing you can do to collect the money. The legal system declares such contracts as void due to the illegality of betting inside the country.
Finally, the government takes it even further by censoring the internet and blocking access to known betting websites. The censorship program in Thailand is vast and is applied to a variety of websites ranging from adult material to criticism of the government. Gambling websites are included in the blacklist. If you ever have any trouble accessing your favorite gambling site, you should look into a VPN service to encrypt your traffic and bypass the filters.
Legal Gambling in Thailand
As I mentioned above, there are only two forms of gambling that are legal in Thailand. One of these is betting on horse races. You can visit tracks in person to watch races and place real money wagers on the horses. This is only offered in person and never online.
The other form of legal betting in Thailand is the national lottery. Thailand has a thriving lottery that pays out millions of baht to winners every year. Lottery tickets are sold across the country and can be redeemed for real cash prizes when the numbers on your ticket match with those picked at random by the Thai lottery.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.