Thailand online sports betting laws
In Thailand the anti-gambling laws are many and include both Royal Decrees and Acts of Parliament. That said, gambling is commonplace and information regarding legal forms of gambling is key, with popular horse races held in Bangkok and the country's national lottery.
The primary law that regulates gambling in Thailand is the Gambling Act, B.E. 2478 (1935). If you click that link you will see there are 46 ministerial regulations, 16 legal opinions of Council of State and a Royal Decree all related to this law.
There are also many separate laws relating to gambling. One example is the Playing Cards Act, B.E. 2486 (1943) which makes owning, manufacturing and selling playing cards a crime. Furthermore, the Anti-Money Laundering Act, B.E. 2542 (1999) strengthens our anti-gambling law in certain cases.
While what I just shared is a lot of reading and doesn’t cover it all, Thailand gambling law is very easy to understand as far as gamblers (as opposed to those “offering gambling”) are concerned. In short: doing anything that may appear to be gambling (playing cards with no money involved even, or having gambling devices) and actual gambling – have penalties ranging from a 1,000 baht fine to one-year in prison.
In all my years involved in the Thai gambling industry, the closest I have heard of gamblers being jailed were the several times farang (foreigners) were detained and deported over poker. While perhaps it does happen, my experience is that Thai people caught gambling are only fined and quite often the matter is settled with an on the spot payment to police. It is also my experience that the strict part of our gambling law applies not to players but rather to gambling den owners, junkets, bookies, agents and gambling banks.
Despite our strict anti-gambling law, illegal gambling is widespread in Thailand. Chulalongkorn professor of economics Pasuk Phongpaichit is famous for his book Utsahakam Kan Phanan (The Gambling Industry). He estimates 70% of Thai people are regular gamblers. Living here and having visited dozens of provinces, my opinion is that he may be correct.
All over the country gambling can be found. In major cities casinos exist in the basement of office space malls and rented upscale apartments. In villages casinos are often in someone’s home, or are just a mat spread out to play dice such as in the photo shown left. Card games with friends, football betting with bookies, or playing numbers draws with non official sources are all common too.
Casinos Near Thailand
Another factor in gambling being widespread is all of our land borders have casinos. Wikipedia entry: Poipet can’t help but mention gambling because hosting Thai gamblers is what this Cambodian town is known for. Here the famous Crown Casino has a sportsbook with odds on nearly all football matches form around the world. They also have a gambling website 9crown.com. As you can see here, Thais can bet online and withdrawal in cash at the casino. As this casino is located in the land between entry/exit points it is possible to visit without being stamped in to Cambodia.
The same is true even in the Northeast. For example: the Nong Khai crossing into Laos is another area where Thais can gamble in the duty free zone between check points. We also have cheap flights with AirAsia to many casino destinations such as Malaysia and Singapore. While more upscale, 2012 Macau tourism figures show 231,295 arrivals from Thailand that year.
Junkets are another aspect of gambling in Thailand. The largest casino in Laos is Savan Vegas. Their company website is only offered in English and Thai (not Lao). Getting Thai people to visit Cambodia and Lao casinos and Victoria Point in Burma (which is reachable by boat shuttle from Ranong) is big business, but understand these casinos may not be safe and there is no guarantee the games are fair. The Thai government has posted the notice shown right on their side of border crossings.
The same as Crown in Cambodia: Savant Vegas in Laos in another of many casinos in the region that offers online betting too. Players can play casino games online while in Thailand and then collect with this casino in person. Understand these online casinos have next to no regulation for game fairness. If you are interested in a much safer options read OnlineBetting.com’s 3rd series in the set of articles found at the bottom of the page.
All of this does not even come close to covering how widespread gambling is in Thailand. Even our legal lottery has a massive black market with at least one person in every village running books that offer better odds than the official draw. Gambling on Muay Thai is very popular as is football betting, card games and even cock-fight wagers. In short it is best explained by saying most of Thailand loves to gamble.
In Thailand we have only two forms of gambling that are exempt from the laws mentioned in this article. The less popular is horse racing in Bangkok which is mostly done at clubs reserved for hi-so (high society) types. However, twice a month there are public race days where betting at the track’s official tote is legal. This is something those living outside Bangkok are not very interested in. Far more popular, and it’s not even close, is playing our national lottery.
In Thailand the lottery is drawn on the first and sixteenth of every month. For reason most of the English language articles on the topic are poorly written and/or contain many errors I have decided to cover this final topic is its own article called Thai Lottery Explained.
In Thailand lottery tickets are preprinted. All over the country lottery vendors can be found roaming markets, streets and villages. There are also stands outside big shops such as Tesco Lotus and Big C.
The official cost per ticket is 40 baht. However, these are sold in identical packs of two so it is only possible to buy two tickets at 80 baht (which are an exact match of each other). Also the sellers of the tickets charge a markup. As is the case with almost everything in Thailand, lottery prices are negotiable.
With street vendors the asking price might be 120-130 baht for the two tickets that have 40+40=80 baht face value. In stands outside major shops 100 Baht is a common price. Interesting is that vendors who do list prices often do so differently for each ticket. Unpopular numbers cost less (85, 90 and 95 baht) while ones containing lucky Buddhist number combinations cost more.
For most drawings, all that matters is the six digit number. If you draw that number in exact order you will win prizes the prize for that draw. So why are there two additional double- digit numbers on the ticket? The bottom number indicates what of type of ticket it is. As of the time I’m writing this article there are two different jackpots.
For certain batches the top prizes are:
3 million baht for all correct
20 million baht for all correct + 2 digit bonus (0-99) number correct.
For the other batches the top prizes are:
2 million baht for all correct
30 million baht for all correct + 2 digit bonus (0-99) number correct.
The same six digit number (0-9 per slot) applies to both main draws. If you get the exact match, next look at the back of your ticket to see if the prize is 2 million or 3 million. From here there is an extra number (multiplier) drawn separate (0-99) for each. If you have the 2 million paying ticket – and the two digit number drawn for it matches, you get 30 million on that ticket. Because you hold two tickets you will get the 30 million + 2 million. The same for the ticket that pays 3 million: if you match the extra number you will get 20 million more for that portion of your ticket.
No matter which type of ticket you hold if you are one number off in either direction (for example if 223454 is the draw then 223453 and 223455 are 1 number off) you win a consolation prize of 50,000 baht. As you have two identical tickets you actually win 100,000 baht.
The remaining draws use only the six-digit numbers and prizes are as follow:
Second Prize = 100,000 Baht per ticket: 5 new six digit numbers are drawn for this and if your six digit number matches any of them you win.
Third Prize = 40,000 Baht per ticket: the same as above but here 10 new six digit numbers are drawn.
Fourth Prize = 20,000 Baht per ticket: the same with 50 new six digit numbers drawn.
Fifth Prize = 10,000 Baht per ticket: the same with 100 new six digit numbers drawn.
Last 3 = 2,000 Baht per ticket: Four sets of three numbers are drawn. If the last three digits of you six digit number match any of these four you win this prize.
Last 2 = 1,000 Baht per: A separate two digit number is drawn and if your last two is a match you win this prize.
Important Note: for reason that you have two identical tickets for every draw the prizes above are always doubled. The only one that is not is the main 20 million and 30 million jackpots.
Finding Thai Lottery Results
The lottery is drawn on the fist and sixteenth of every month. A television show is built around this that starts at 3PM. Towards the end of the show (just before 4PM) the lottery numbers are displayed. If you speak Thai you can also find the results on the official website www.glo.or.th.
How to Claim Lottery Prizes
Winning tickets can be redeemed for their prize at any Provincial Office of the Comptroller General’s Department (CGD). There is one of these in every province (3 in Bangkok). The tax is 0.5% of winnings. It is possible to redeem at shops though the fee is higher, about 2% is a typical price to negotiate to.
Understand the lottery covered on this page is extremely popular. Especially so in rural areas where folk beliefs and Chinese religions have integrated with Buddhism – the ideas of spirits, ghosts, and dreams producing winning numbers is such a phenomenon here that in 2013 it was written about in the New York Times. It is also discussed in this ThaiVisa thread.
In Thai temples there are bamboo sticks in tubes that visitors shake until one falls out. The stick that falls out has a number on it that corresponds with lottery poetry located on the wall. These include lucky numbers for playing the lottery. Enter เซียมซี into a Google image search might help you understand. Also, Prapheni Bun Bang Fai (ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ) is an annual merit-making ceremony practiced by ethnic-Loa people (such as my wife and her family) that live in Thailand. It involves large black-powder rockets. Those who attend watch the smoke in hopes of seeing lottery numbers appear in the trails.
My license plate number once had the winning numbers. At least half-a-dozen strangers stopped to point this out after the draw, most of them asking if I played. Seeing as I was lucky questions about my dreams and such followed in several conversations. The fact even days after the draw people remember and see past drawings appearing in places tells how popular this is.
As popular as our main lottery is the illegal lotto. In most every province there is at least one person running books that offers better odds than the legal lotto. These use the exact same six-number draw as the National Lottery. While very few are honest about what it costs and the odds, for the benefit of farang who wish to know:
Last Two Exact – for every 12 baht wagered the winnings are 1,000 baht.
Last Three Exact – for every 1 baht wager the winnings are 500 baht.
Last Three Any Order – for every 1 baht wagered the winnings are 90 baht
Understand the illegal lottery is a nationwide syndicate. While some sellers might charge more, or some might run books independent of this crime syndicate (thus charging more or less) the above are the standard odds for our illegal lottery.
Horse racing in Bangkok and Thai Lottery are the only forms of gambling legal under Thailand Law. Online betting is however popular in Thailand because our police do not focus on websites that are licensed and legal in other countries. In Chatuchak Market in BKK and Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai you’ll find jerseys with BWIN logos for sale. On popular Thai websites Bodog88 casino ads are found. Ladbrokes has sponsored many Asian football tours here. The presence of online gambling websites is easy to see.
Websites for Betting Online
There are multiple types of websites Thai residents can use for sports betting, casino and online poker. The two most ideal are Asian bookies and UK bookmakers, though betting with land based casinos is also possible. In this article I explain the benefits, differences and how to use each. For the benefit of readers not aware how online betting works, I first quickly explain post up.
Understanding Post Up
Both Asian bookies and UK Bookmakers operate on post up. This means you can only bet how much is in your account. Let’s say you deposit 3,000 THB. You then make a ฿500 bet. This will be taken from your account making your balance 2500 THB. If your bet loses nothing happens. If it wins the ฿500 stake is returned to your balance and the winnings are added too. At anytime you can cash out all or part of your account balance. With Asian bookies these cash outs are paid direct to your Thai bank account.
Using Asian Bookies in Thailand
Asian bookies are the easiest to use. www.bodog88.com is legal and licensed in the Philippines but markets to Thailand. They offer casino, sports betting, and poker from the same website. If you have a bank account with Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) or Krung Thai Bank making post up deposits is easy. You can use online banking right at their website, or you can make deposits at the ATM or a transfer at the bank branch.
The benefits to using Asian bookies are many. Both Thai language and English language are supported. Also it is easy to deposit with direct bank transfer in Thai Baht (THB), and therefore no currency exchange fees are involved. Most bookies including Bodog88 offer payouts to Thai banks free of charge. Here you will find live dealer casino games such as baccarat, roulette and blackjack. There are also online slot machines and other casino games such as dice (craps). The benefits for sports betting are many too.
Football is the main sport of Asian sites. All the major leagues such as English Premier League (EPL), Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga are covered. You’ll also find betting odds on leagues from all around the world including Thai Premier League, but also other European and Asian leagues too. Besides just football they offer betting on tennis, volleyball, Formula 1, and many other sports.
Though not all Asian bookies offer online poker, Bodog88 does. They have Texas Hold’em cash games, sit and go tournaments and scheduled multi-table tournaments. Because many of their players are from South East Asia where poker is not as big as other places, the games here are very soft. On average it is much easier to win money with Bodog Poker than with big sites such as PokerStars, Party and Bet365.
Using UK bookmakers from Thailand is not as easy as using Asian bookies. However it is well worth the hassle in getting set up. The reason why is gambling has been legal in the UK since the 1960s. Only the most reputable companies are licensed here. Take for example www.bet365.com. They are one of the largest companies in the UK and even own the English Premier Franchise Stoke City FC. You can know for certain that their casino games are fair because the UK Gambling Commission is very strict and audits these games.
There are many benefits to Bet365 but first let me tell you a trick. When you an open account for free at www.bet365.com your account will be in Thailand Baht (฿) (THB). Log-in and contact their live chat and ask the operator to switch your account to United States Dollar (USD). This will make you eligible for a 100% up to $200 sports betting bonus. You deposit $200 USD (about 6000 THB) and you start with $400 (about 12000 THB).
The only small catch is all your bets must total 3-times your deposit plus bonus amount before you cash out. To deposit you’ll need to use EntroPay or NETELLER so if not already funded there will be fees. This is why I said get ฿5600 free – the actual amount is probably a bit more.
Entropay is a service that offers internet based prepaid VISA debit cards. The reason this is needed is because Thai debit cards do not work for deposits at online gambling sites, but do work at EntroPay. Register an account at their website and they will give you an online VISA card number. You then load the card for a 4.9% fee using your Thai debit card. I do this all the time with my Be1st Visa Debit Card from Bangkok Bank.
A small tip is your card will get declined by EntroPay if you fail to complete the Verified by Visa process. For this service you must be registered. This is fairly easy to do – just follow the instructions online if you are not already registered. Or you can Google search your bank name with the words Verified by Visa to find out how to enroll. If you’re bank is Bangkok Bank you can register here.
Once you have added money to your EntroPay account visit the Bet365 cashier. When asked how you want to deposit, select EntroPay and enter you card details and the amount and hit submit. Instantly your Bet365 account will be funded. You can then play casino, poker or bet sports from their website.
Important note: at some point you will likely get an email saying your EntroPay account has been restricted or suspended pending a routine review. They will ask you to send them a copy of your ID, utility bill and funding source and to tell the name of the merchant you intend to spend with. Sending this information is fine. EntroPay is licensed by a UK government body called the FSA and is highly reputable. This is only a security check and nothing to worry about. It is fine to tell them the name of a gambling site as the merchant because gambling is very legal in the UK.
NETELLER is more difficult to set up from Thailand. This is an e-wallet that works just like an online bank account. You can use it to cash money out of one gambling site and then deposit to another. One nice benefit is they offer an ATM card where you can withdrawal the money stored in your NETELLER account at a Thai ATM machine. The one downside is to fund your account you initially will need to either a) find a transfer from someone with a NETELLER account (such as trading them PayPal) or make a wire transfer at the bank. The latter option is a bit expensive, and also farang without work permits will probably not be allowed to make a bank transfer as it involves remitting funds out of the country. For Thais this is a good account to set up.
Again, depositing a Bet365 is a bit more hassle than Asian bookies, but the benefits are many. As I already mentioned we know the games are fair because they are licensed in the UK. The other factor is they have FAR more casino games than any of their competitors. They also have more player volume in their poker room than any of the Asian bookies. The massive advantage is sports. Anyone with a funded account can watch live steams of sports matches right from the Bet365 website. This is a huge plus as True Vision, Home Cable and others only have limited sports coverage.
Also at Bet365 not only can you watch games live online, but you can also bet on them live. They are a market leader for live in-play betting. You can bet while the match is running on who will, the over under and also markets such as who will score the next goal, or even a race to a certain number of corners. What is mentioned here is only a small overview. This is a website that if you take the effort to use you will likely be glad that you did.
There are many land based casino in countries that border Thailand that offer online betting. Crown Casino in Poipet, Cambodia is the most famous for sports betting. Savan Vegas Hotel & Casino Savannakhet, Laos is the nicest casino in the region. They offer an online casino too. These are only a couple examples. Although these are probably fine to use, understand there is no guarantee the online version of their games are fair. They are not heavily regulated the same as Bet365 is in the UK.
It is the advice of OnlineBetting.com to stick to using UK gambling sites when possible. In times the banking options are easier using casinos in Philippines, Isle of Man, and Gibraltar are good options too. These are all locations with well financed gambling commissions which greatly increases the chances the games are fair. Still in our opinion www.bet365.com is the safest and best gambling site for English speakers living in Thailand.