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Thailand Should Legalize Casinos, Billionaire Dhanin Says

July 27 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand should legalize casinos in order to gain revenue and reduce illegal activity, according to billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont.

“We should accept the truth,” Dhanin, chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group, told reporters in Bangkok today. “We already have underground businesses. They don’t pay tax and also build dark power. Why not legalize it. We should study Singapore’s case.”

Singapore announced in April 2005 it was overturning a ban on casinos that had been in place since independence in 1965. Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Genting Singapore Plc spent more than $10 billion on two gaming resorts that opened two years ago, which include Southeast Asia’s only Universal Studios theme park and a downtown convention center.

The casinos should be located in major tourist destinations such as Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya, Dhanin said. “If Thailand opens a casino, we will get more revenue than Macau,” he said.

More than 90 percent of Thailand’s 67 million people are Buddhist, making the issue of legalizing gambling contentious. Dhanin also controls Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl, the nation’s largest producer of animal feeds and meat.

To contact the reporter on this story: Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at suttinee1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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