Thailand has launched a wide spread illegal gambling crackdown to curb the spread of gambling in the country. The anti-gambling campaign has not put the spotlight on the activities of social media giants Facebook and Twitter.
Thailand reportedly filed legal complaints against both companies for failing to uphold a court-ordered ban on online gambling posts and content.
Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri confirmed that Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, recently ordered a stricter enforcement of anti-gambling rules in the country. One particular focus of the illegal gambling crackdown is the proliferation of black market offshore sites that provide Thais with gambling services and products.
Local lawmakers have told Thai telecom operators and internet service providers to ban locals from accessing close to 1,200 illegal gambling websites within 15 days, or potentially face charges. Telecom operators and internet service providers immediately cracked down on the sites, but Facebook and Twitter failed to complete their task on time.
Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Thailand’s Minister of Digital Economy and Society, said that Twitter and Facebook have been informed of the same obligations, but have so far failed to enact the bans. Thai media has reported that Facebook has blocked access to just 215 out of the 661 accounts with online gambling content, while Twitter has banned a mere four out of 69 offending accounts.
A Thai police spokesperson stated that the two companies are on the dock for a fine of THB200,000 (around $6,300), as well as a daily cumulative fine of THB5,000 for each day they fail to ban all online gambling-related accounts on their platforms.
Thailand’s Gambling Act, ratified in 1935, continues to be the primary gambling legislation in the country. The Gambling Act identifies horse racing bets and government-run lotteries as the only exceptions to the country’s total ban on gambling.
Recent Calls for Legal Gambling Falter
The Thai government’s recent push against illegal gambling comes on the heels of a local legislator’s recent call to consider legalizing online gambling and traditional casinos as a way of recouping the economic losses imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on Thailand’s tourism-heavy economy.
The legislator, Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, is the leader of the Thai Civilised Party. Suksintharanon said that legal gambling could help prevent illegal gambling sites from profiting on Thai punters without paying taxes.