In the past, Thailand’s monarchy has been notoriously anti-gambling, but the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn has taken a different approach. He has been fascinated by the multi-billion dollar integrated resorts of Singapore and Macau. While these countries have opposed gambling for many years, King Maha Vajiralongkorn says he’s willing to allow gambling on Thai soil.
Las Vegas Sands Corp
Thailand is the only ASEAN nation without legalized casino gambling, but Las Vegas Sands Corp is considering developing a casino resort in the country. Until now, Thai gamblers have to travel to neighboring Cambodia and Myanmar to gamble. A casino resort in Thailand could provide much-needed jobs for Thais and attract a large number of tourists.
The company has a global footprint with ufa casinos and hotels in Asia. Its Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore costs $5.6 billion and is designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. It features three 57-story towers connected by a three-acre Skypark. The company announced a $600 million operating profit less than eight months after its debut. The company also has its own sustainability initiative roadmap, called Sands ECO360. This program emphasizes the use of environmentally friendly processes and materials.
Donaco, which is based in Bangkok, Thailand, operates a number of leisure businesses across Asia and the Pacific. Its largest property is Star Vegas Resort & Club, which borders Thailand and features 1,500 gaming machines and 100 or more gaming tables. The property has 385 hotel rooms and recently expanded into a five-star resort complex. Donaco also owns the Aristo International Hotel, a successful boutique casino in northern Vietnam. The property is located near the border with Yunnan Province, China, and has recently expanded into a new resort complex with 400 hotel rooms.
Donaco was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2013. It had a market value of $290 million a year ago, but was worth $51 million at 6.3 cents per share on Friday. The casino group has grown significantly since then, mainly through the acquisition of Star Vegas in 2015. In 2015, Donaco acquired this casino from Star Vegas, which generated more than $82 million in revenue a year. In return, the company received two seats on the board of directors.
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King Maha Vajiralongkorn
The royal family of Thailand is not short of controversy, and King Maha Vajiralongkorn is no exception. He was educated in Britain and Australia, and is the oldest monarch in Thailand. He possesses an estimated personal wealth of $30 billion. The royal family has been accused of gambling a great deal, and Vajiralongkorn has said that he begged a former prime minister for money to cover gambling debts.
As the monarch of Thailand, Vajiralongkorn has also faced controversy over the royal family’s use of personal aircraft. In 2011, his plane was seized after he was involved in a financial dispute with a German company. In addition, he has been forced to deal with the challenges of leading a divided nation. But most Thais have only known him as the king.
Buddhist groups opposing gambling
In the last year, the government of Thailand has made some progress in legalizing gambling, but some Buddhist groups are voicing their opposition. In 2004, a pro-gambling lobby proposed legalizing gambling complexes, but the government rejected it. In 2012, they tried again, but the government did not agree. The pro-gambling lobby argues that King Rama IX is anti-gambling.
According to the Buddhist principles, there is no such thing as a sinful act. It is a matter of accepting change. Buddhism teaches us to accept that everything is impermanent, and therefore, gambling is no different. But because our natural state is the fight-or-flight response, accepting the fact that things change and that everything is temporary is not easy to do.