Thailand Reintroduces Animal Sports with Gambling: A Boost to Tourism and Economy

Thailand Reintroduces Animal Sports

Thailand is on a legal gambling exploration, and all indications indicate imminent legislation. The Thai House of Representatives authorized a special report proposing the establishment of a casino entertainment zone less than a year ago. The country’s Interior Ministry recently announced that the government will support and permit traditional animal contests. Thanks to the country’s concerted efforts to revitalize its tourism business, gambling fans now have a larger arena to bet on cockfighting online. Such showdowns have long irritated animal rights campaigners, but the Southeast Asian country takes pride in the races’ traditional spirit.

Strategies To Bring Back Animal Sports

Horse racing betting is one of Thailand’s few legal sports on which to wager. Animal contests are not new to the Thai people. Before the ban in 2020, the Thai people loved the exhilarating spectacles on occasion. Since the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided, Thai authorities have approved hosting animal sports such as cockfighting, bullfighting, siamese fighting fish battles, and horse racing. In February, permanent secretary Suttipong Juljarern directed assistant chiefs, district chiefs, and provincial governors to provide permits for animal-related betting activities. According to the provincial director-general’s regulations, licensed parties can stage cockfights and fish fights in Bangkok. Event organizers in Bangkok will need licenses from the director of the Provincial Administration Department’s Investigation and Litigation Division to hold horse races. For the legitimacy of operations, contest hosts in other provinces must get permits from District chiefs or assistant district chiefs.

Revamping Thai’s Tourism Sector

Thailand is a top tourist destination, but travel and interaction limitations during the global pandemic caused the industry to plummet. As a result, the Thai government has been working feverishly to rekindle the sector’s spark and compensate for the losses incurred. Recognizing Thailand’s shifting gambling landscape, the traditionally anti-gambling society has had to compromise to attract more international visitors, gradually joining the pro-gambling wave currently sweeping the globe.

In December 2021, a parliamentary committee was formed to investigate the viability of building casino resorts in Thailand. The legislature formed the committee to investigate and weigh the economic worth of operating an entertainment complex against the potential negative outcomes. In January 2023, the special committee presented a report to parliament, advocating the legalization of eight distinct gaming operations, among other possible measures. According to Sanhapot Suksrimuang, a Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) committee member, it took 240 days to conduct the study and make it comprehensive enough. 

The approval of the report in parliament did not legalize the establishment of casinos, but it was a step toward the stated objective of improving tourism offers as a primary source of revenue in the country. Thailand’s recent decision to re-accept, recognize, and encourage animal contests revealed its bigger aim to reinvent tourism and optimize its potential.

Bloodsports or Revival of a Tradition: Attitudes Towards Animal Sports

The government will promote the proposed animal races to attract people from other countries to attend the events and place bets. The goal is to benefit from revenue flowing into the country and strengthen the country’s economy. However, animal rights activists believe that fighting animals for entertainment is a violation that should be prohibited rather than promoted. On the other hand, Thai society, including the government, views the games as valuable resources that should be used because they are an important part of the country’s past. 

In the interest of animal safety, Thai authorities have imposed rigorous rules on all animal contest event hosts upon licensure. The most fundamental is to treat the animals with care. Torturing fish, bulls, cocks, and horses is prohibited. To ensure the required care, bullfighting will be allowed once a month at each location in Phatthalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Songkhla. Bullfighting will be permitted weekly in other provinces, but only four monthly events will be held to provide the animals with enough rest. Additionally, contests cannot be held on Buddhist holidays. There may be annual activities to raise money for charity. The Thai government has limited them to five events per year.

Final Thoughts

Thailand is working hard to reclaim its tourism glory, and legalizing animal fights is a vital indicator of its commitment to this profitable industry. Some individuals worldwide may object to exposing animals to potential injury for monetary gain. However, animal contests are a global phenomenon, and the target audiences will travel to the country to see the age-old games. Thailand seems to be going down the same route as countries such as the United Arab Emirates, a previously anti-gambling nation considering gaming resorts to boost tourism. As Thailand navigates this path, balancing tradition with modern sensibilities will be key to its success in the global tourism market.