Thailand and its capital Bangkok has less exposure to poker, and not too many Thais play in the big international tournaments. The fact no Thai national had major success on the tournament circuit changed in March 2013. It was this month that Chane Kampanatsanyakorn from Bangkok earned about ฿2.7 million in the Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Seoul Main Event. The following month, he added about ฿800,000 more in winnings at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Asia Pacific Main Event.
Over the past few years, Thailand has become the top spot in Asia for professional online poker players to spend their time, especially during the European/US winter. The infrastructure is one of the best in South East Asia; the food is great, and there are tons of places to enjoy life – like at the beach playing poker online. The quality of the internet has improved a lot and is now close to western standards.
Online Poker: Illegal
Live Poker: Illegal
Casinos with Poker: None
– Playing Live Poker in Thailand –
Live Poker Legislation in Thailand
Other than horse racing and the lottery, all forms of gambling are illegal under the Thailand Gambling Act of 1935. The penalties range from 500 to 5000 baht (about $15 to $150). People found gambling are usually just fined, depending on the severity of the gambling, but bear in mind that it can also carry up to three years’ imprisonment. Harsher penalties are generally reserved for organizers of the games.
These laws apply to foreigners as well, and the authorities have been known to throw them in jail to await deportation, and deportation is often the response here in addition to fines, although if the offense is minor, sometimes immigration officials will waive deportation.
There are over 50,000 arrests a year for gambling in Thailand. The government is very serious about cracking down on it, and they take a very proactive approach to it as well. For instance, having government agents spy on people, or set up gambling operations to entrap them.
It should be noted that it is also illegal to produce or import playing cards, under the Playing Cards Act of 1943. So, beware if you plan on taking your own cards to Thailand.
Live Poker Venues in Thailand
Despite these strict laws and great efforts to enforce them, illegal gambling in Thailand is very rampant, and underground casinos are said to be everywhere. In Thailand, 70% of the people here are regular gamblers.
Besides a couple of – obviously illegal – home games of poker in Bangkok, Koh Samui, Phuket, and Pattaya, there are only a couple of casinos at the borders of Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar with Thailand, where gambling is allowed.
– Playing Online Poker in Thailand –
Online Poker Legislation in Thailand
Although gambling is illegal in Thailand, there hasn’t been a case yet where a poker player has had a problem playing online. However, for those who do wish to play online poker, special care is advised. Using a Thai Credit Card or making deposits with a Thai-IP address is definitely a no-go. Solutions like VPNs and Entropay/Skrill/Neteller are recommended.
The poker sites themselves seem to have put Thailand on their whitelist of legal online poker countries. As a result, all the major online rooms are available in Thailand: PokerStars, PartyPoker, iPoker, America’s Cardroom and many others work. There are even some Thai specific sites like PokerThai.net or W88poker to play poker online with Thai locals.