CRIME SURGES AS THAIS TAKE BRIDGE TO LAOS
18.03.2012 - 10:56:07

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CRIME SURGES AS THAIS TAKE BRIDGE TO LAOS !!






A senior Thai diplomat in the western Laos city of Savannakhet has raised concerns about Thais who cross the second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge from Thailand's Mukdahan to "get lucky" gambling at a casino there.

Russ Jalichandra, the Thai consul-general to Savannakhet, said he wants the Thai government to implement effective measures to prevent Thai people from crossing the bridge to enter the Laos casino.

Mr Russ raised the concerns after at least three Thai gamblers who lost their money at the casino were arrested on charges of stealing cars, petty crimes and overstaying in Laos because they had no money left to return home to Thailand.

"I believe the casino may bring an increase in the crime rate in Savannakhet because many gamblers who lose all their money through gambling may decide to commit crimes such as snatching purses and stealing cars," Mr Russ said.

A source said 95% of gamblers in Savannakhet are Thais.

He said at least 500 Thai people enter Savannakhet every day to gamble.

That number increases to up to 1,000 people per day on weekends and public holidays.

Most of them travelled from provinces bordering Laos such as Yasothon, Mukdhahan and Nakhon Phanom.

Provincial authorities from Mukdhahan, where the 2nd Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge is located, also expressed concern about this situation but they could not take any legal action against them, the source said.

The source said Thai tourist companies who took Thai people to gamble at casinos in Savannakhet usually referred to these gambling dens as "entertainment complexes" in their brochures to avoid legal consequences.

Mr Russ said the Thai government should seek measures to mitigate the negative impacts as in the past no state agency had looked at it seriously.

"It is likely that the number of Thai gamblers will increase and there will be more casinos in our neighbouring countries, such as in Myanmar or in Laos' Khammouane province, opposite Nakhon Phanom," he said.

"Going forward, I believe gambling will be as bad a problem as drugs in the future."

Gambling dens are illegal in Thailand and, as a Buddhist country, Thailand discourages people from being involved in gambling which is considered a vice in Buddhism.

But some countries around Thailand allow casinos to mushroom along the borders, drawing thousands of Thai gamblers there every year.

Whether to open a legal casino in Thailand has been the subject of hot debate in government circles for many years.