It is hardly a secret that many online poker professionals have found a new home in Thailand. This is especially true for US pros who were left struggling for options after Black Friday. Today, Thailand's online poker community is a big one and gathers many immigrants and locals alike.
But one question that often pops up is: is it actually legal to play poker in Thailand?
This article will try to answer this question and explain the overall legal situation pertaining to gambling and poker in Thailand.
Every country has its own laws and regulations, and knowing what to expect ahead of time can be very beneficial, so keep on reading.
Gambling in Thailand Largely Illegal
Although all sorts of gambling are quite popular in Southeastern Asia, and the gambling industry has been on the uptick in that part of the world, Thailand refuses to join the hype.
As of right now, all types of gambling, except lottery and betting on horses, are illegal.
The regulating law passed back in 1935 and hasn’t changed much since. While some other countries in this part of the world also have laws against gambling, Thailand is also quite keen on enforcing them.
Those caught participating in illegal games usually have to pay a fine that goes up to $150. Organizers, however, sometimes face harsher consequences and can even go to jail for a period of up to three years.
The country is particularly harsh on foreigners who are arrested on charges of organizing illegal gambling activities. In addition to financial fines, these individuals are frequently deported.
That said, many foreigners welcome deportation, though, instead of having to spend time in Thai prisons.
What about Online Poker In Thailand?
Going back to the article's start, it seems strange that a country with such harsh anti-gambling laws wouldn’t be a destination of choice for online poker players. Is online poker then somehow excluded or defined differently in the laws?
No, not at all.
As far as the Thai government is concerned, poker is just another game of luck and whether you gamble online or live is immaterial. You’re still breaking the law.
Despite this, many poker and online gambling sites like foxz168 continue to cater to Thai players specifically. These sites provide players with an opportunity to gamble in the Thai language and offer various convenient deposit and withdrawal methods.
While technically illegal, online poker in Thailand is pretty much out of the scope of the authorities.
Their focus is primarily on large land-based gambling operations. It is virtually impossible to keep track of what people are doing in the privacy of their own homes, and those who decide to play online poker are unlikely to get in any legal trouble.
Black Market Still Thriving
Even though the Thai government is very serious about actually implementing anti-gambling laws and that there are more than 50,000 gambling-related arrests every year, the black market continues to thrive.
The fact of the matter is that Thai people love to gamble, and they are offered a very limited range of legal opportunities.
This is the perfect environment for the underground scene to thrive in.
Without regulated options, people turn to illegal gambling venues offering all sorts of games – including poker.
Live poker games are rarely found inside underground casinos, though. The poker scene mostly consists of private games that you need to be invited to.
Another interesting fact about gambling laws in Thailand is that producing or importing playing cards into the country is illegal as well.
You can still have a deck of cards on your person, of course, but the country is clearly doing a lot to put a stop to illicit gambling activities.
So far, their success has been quite limited. Despite frequent raids and the number of gambling-related arrests far greater than in most countries around the world, people continue to gamble.
It feels like Thailand would actually benefit a lot from regulating the gaming market and providing players with safe and legal options, but this doesn’t seem likely in the near future.
Some Caution Is Still Advised
Although the online segment of the gambling market isn’t specifically targeted, it’s not completely off the radar. This is especially true for serious professionals who make decent amounts of money playing various poker games and who run a risk of attracting some unwanted attention.
Because of this, it is good to take some precautionary measures when gambling online in Thailand.
- Using VPNs to bypass Thai internet service providers is one of the most common measures.
- Not using any Thai credit or debit cards to deposit money into or withdraw cash from poker and gambling sites is also recommended.
A professional poker player isn’t on the list of recognized legitimate activities in Thailand, so you’re better off keeping it to yourself. Bragging about playing poker for a living and making money this way can get you in trouble, and you might even be forced to leave the country.
What Is It Really Like?
Sticking to this advice and having a good cover story for how you make your money is definitely a good idea, but you shouldn’t be too afraid to play online poker in Thailand.
There have been very few reports of bad experiences for those who moved there to do just that, so that paints a better picture of what things really are in practice.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you really shouldn’t be talking too much about your income source or discussing poker hands and gambling in public. It is no one’s business but your own, and sharing your secret with the wrong person can get you in trouble.
Other than that, most people living in Thailand seem to enjoy a nice life, and nobody bothers them too much.
Whether the government is unaware of what’s going on or they choose to ignore it is anyone’s guess, but the latter seems to be a more likely scenario.