MGM China Eyeing Thailand Expansion as Nation Prepares to Legalize Casinos

Alan Campbell

Updated by Alan Campbell

Last Updated 21st Jun 2024, 12:38 PM

MGM China Eyeing Thailand Expansion as Nation Prepares to Legalize Casinos

MGM China Holdings Limited is reportedly looking into the possibility of obtaining a casino license in Thailand so as to help increase the number of visitors to its existing pair of Macau casino properties.

A subsidiary of American casino operator MGM Resorts International, MGM China Holdings Limited is already responsible for the giant MGM Macau and MGM Cotai venues and last week launched its first large-scale overseas promotional campaign in Thailand. 

Being run in partnership with the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), this drive is to involve a number of special events alongside the release of several themed travel vlogs offering potential tourists a glimpse into the cultural and entertainment offerings of Macau.

Intriguing Possibility

The Bangkok Post reported MGM China Holdings Limited could well follow the launch of this push by applying for one of Thailand’s coming casino licenses. The Hong Kong-listed operator’s Chair and Executive Director, Pansy Ho, recently met with the head of the nation’s tourism board as part of discussions aimed at stimulating even greater international travel across Asia.

Ho reportedly told the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thapanee Kiatphaibool, her company is eyeing the possibility of premiering further such campaigns in order to diversify its client base, which is currently dominated by punters from Taiwan and mainland China. 

The 61-year-old mogul purportedly furthermore described Thailand as an attractive market due to its fast economic growth and its citizen’s long-standing interest in overseas travel.

Impressive Improvement

Iwan Dietschi, Hospitality Senior Vice-President for MGM China Holdings Limited, reportedly disclosed the number of Thai nationals visiting his company’s properties in Macau has recently increased by 30% year-on-year. 

He added his firm has now established a sales representative in Bangkok as part of a concerted effort to boost this rise even further.

The MGTO revealed Macau welcomed more than 8.8 million foreign holidaymakers during the first three months of 2024, which represented a swell of 79.4% year-on-year. It also explained Thailand was sixth on the list of starting points behind only China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines with some 38,600 travellers.

Significant Shift

This speculation comes as Thailand is expected to ratify draft legislation before the end of the year that would allow foreign firms to construct and operate a number of gambling-friendly resorts. This move would end the nation’s long-standing prohibition on casinos and potentially see it bring in as much as $3 billion a year via an envisioned 30% tax rate.

The Deputy Finance Minister for Thailand, Julapun Amornvivat, reportedly told The Star Malaysia the proposed measure has already been accessed by every one of the country’s 16 government agencies and could begin being scrutinized by cabinet ministers from as soon as next month.

Once this examination is finished, Amornvivat reportedly divulged the draft legislation and any subsequent changes are to be sent to the Council of State for further evaluation in advance of being put to a vote before the country’s Senate and House of Representatives.

Strict Stipulations

Passed as currently written, the legislation would reportedly allow licensed foreign firms to construct giant entertainment complexes in five designated areas across Thailand. 

These facilities could be obliged to feature hotels and shops with casino gambling occupying no more than 5% of their total floor space.

The measure purportedly also calls for the establishment of a national committee featuring government representatives to oversee the nation’s journey towards casino legalization. This body would reportedly then have the final say on any future casino resorts in the country of 66 million people, including where such enterprises could be located.


Meet The Author

Alan Campbell
Alan Campbell

Alan Campbell has been reporting on the global gambling industry ever since graduating from university in the late-1990s with degrees in journalism, English and history. Now headquartered in the northern English city of Sheffield, he has written on a plethora of topics, companies, regulatory developments and technological innovations for a large number of traditional and digital publications from around the planet.

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