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Thailand is known for having very strict laws and regulations on gambling and betting. However, it does very little in deterring the local population and expats from playing in both legal and illegal gambling sites in the country.
Around 57% of the Thai population is said to be active in gambling activities, according to a study conducted by the Center for Gambling Studies of Chulalongkorn University in 2019.
To add to this, online casinos have been gaining traction over the past years. However, it still pales in comparison to the popularity of state lottery, legalized lottery and illegal gambling. Online casinos have drawn the younger generation who are more familiar and savvy in navigating the virtual platform compared to their older peers.
But it is only a matter of time before the older generation keeps up with the trend. Soon, the popularity of online casinos will catch up to, if not surpass, the more traditional forms of gambling and betting.
In Thailand, the strict gambling regulations themselves contribute to the steady rise of online punters. Since the Thai government provides very limited options, people who want to gamble turn to online casinos for the security, convenience, entertainment experience, and most especially, for better odds at winning.
What are the sports betting options available in Thailand?
In Thailand, the government has only legalized lottery and horse racing events. The national lottery operated by the Government Lottery Office (GLO) holds a draw two times a month. Around 19 million Thais or about 29% of the population play in the government-sponsored lottery.
They spend around 150 billion baht (US$5 billion) in a year. Despite this huge amount of collections, the payout ratio is a meagre 60% compared to the average range of 80-90% in other casino games around the world. Meanwhile, several race tracks are located in exclusive sports clubs around the country where only the elites can bet and wager.
It is for this reason that many illegal and underground gambling dens proliferate in Thailand. According to government authorities, around 200 onsite gambling dens operate in the country with 46 of these found in Bangkok.
An estimated amount of 153 billion baht (US$5.1 billion) are spent by players in these underground dens. In these gambling and betting parlors, people from lower income classes can wager on horse racing, cockfighting, football, and other sports. And although the amount of stakes are lower than the national lottery, the odds of winning are significantly higher.
However, underground casinos are heavily targeted by Thai authorities. Recently, a series of raids were conducted by authorities to crackdown on the illegal activities believed to be the cause of the second wave of COVID-19 virus infections in the country.
Underground bookies that offer bets for football were also subjected to massive crackdown months before the start of the World Cup series.
Although online casinos that offer sports betting are technically prohibited in Thailand, more and more Thais use the internet to bet and wager. Studies reveal that a total of 20.2 billion Thai baht (US$670 million) were wagered in online casinos.
This rise in online betting is due to the fact that Thai gambling laws and regulations are difficult, if not impossible to apply in the world wide web. Most online betting platforms and bookies are legally licensed abroad and fall outside the jurisdiction of Thai authorities. Although their sites are blocked in the country, the use of VPN can easily circumvent these restrictions.
At the same time, online betting are much better alternatives because of the higher odds of winning and higher payout ratio without risk of legal prosecution. Thai authorities admit that they are losing the battle against online gambling and mulls over the possibility of legalization and regulation of the market.
Why are online sports betting better?
Aside from the most obvious reason that only the elites and aristocrats can wager in legal horseracing events and that land-based bookies are regularly raided, online sports betting is a better alternative for its convenience, security, wide range of offerings, better and fairer odds at winning, and its special deals.
Online betting platforms are operated by licensed and legitimate companies abroad. These companies go the extra mile in ensuring at least two things: to deliver the promise of fun and convenience, and to guarantee the safety and security of transactions with their punters. The limitless possibilities in innovation and features through internet engineering is sure to keep players from getting bored. At the same time, they eliminate the fear of getting swindled because these platforms offer various means to assure players that they get real money from their payouts.
Unlike the national lottery and the land-based betting dens where punters are unaware of their odds in winning, online betting sites regularly provide the odds—which team is more likely to win, their score differences, or their combined scores. Punters can play by chance or by odds, whichever is more fun, exciting, and rewarding for them.
Finally, online betting sites are famous for pampering their clients with special deals. These benefits are rare, if not entirely inexistent, in land-based gambling. Online sites offer all sorts of bonuses starting with a welcome bonus, free play, return bonus, and much more.
Online casinos and their bookies offer a promising platform, covering every aspect and concern of Thai punters.
What are the most popular sports that Thais wager on?
According to research, the most popular sports betting in Thailand is football. Each year, around 160 billion baht (US$5.3 billion) is spent on it. The most-watched being the English Premier League. Aside from football, Thais regularly wager on sports events such as Muay Thai, Boxing, Basketball, Golf, Tennis, and Badminton. These games offer the biggest stakes because of a steady and rising pool of regular and avid bettors.
However, punters can opt to bet on less popular games to increase their probability of winning. Thanks to online casinos, players can place their bet on almost all sporting events. In fact, some online sites even offer wagers on politics, elections in different countries, entertainment shows, awards nights, and many more.
The steady rise and persistence of online sports betting despite government crackdown and global pandemic proves that it will only get more popular to eventually dominate all other gambling platforms.