Casino project in Danok will boost regional economic growth, says Kelantan Chinese Chamber of Commerce

KOTA BARU: The Thai government's proposal to build entertainment complex project, including casinos in Danok, would spur the economic growth of the region.

Kelantan Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Yap Heng Or said he believed a successfully run casino and entertainment complexes also would enhance tourism, create jobs and bring more incomes to the locals, as well as increase revenues to the municipal and government.

"The integrated entertainment complex project, which includes plans for casinos to be set up on the Thai side opposite Bukit Kayu Hitam, is still subject to the challenge of obtaining an endorsement from the local communities, which consist of a large Muslim population.

"Ideally, a successfully run casino and entertainment complex can help spur the economic growth of the region. However, on the flip side, it might cause many social ills if not regulated effectively, such as income loss, economic distress, crimes, bankruptcy, and domestic issues.

"This will prove to be terrible for an already poorer southern region," he said.

He added that it may prove to be economically non-viable or unattractive to potential operators to invest in the poorer southern region compared to the more economically robust northern region of Thailand.

"Whether the project will attract a high number of tourists is uncertain, considering the geographical distance from the capital city, the lack of other tourist attractions and infrastructure, and the occurrence of social unrest from time to time," he said.

The plan by the Thai government to set up a new tourist attraction in Danok comes after Thai tourism operators in Songkhla called on the country's government to build an entertainment complex there to address sluggish tourism in border areas and avoid over-dependence on Malaysian tourists.

According to the Bangkok Post, the Thai government is currently studying the feasibility of building an integrated entertainment complex development project in the country.

In lieu of that, the president of the Songkhla Tourism Promotion Association, Songchai Mungprasithichai, said that Danok, also known as Ban Dan Nok, and the area around the Sadao checkpoint, bordering Bukit Kayu Hitam, has the potential to attract tourists interested in gambling.

More so, given that the Sadao checkpoint is the main entry point in the south of Thailand. The casino could compete with Genting Highlands, which attracts a high number of tourists.

Songchai added that demand for casino tourism would be high and cited Genting Highlands as an example of how legally operated casinos and resorts could attract many tourists.

He suggested that to curb any unwanted issues, the Thai government should issue clear regulations to screen local gamblers, such as setting a minimum individual income.

Songchai also urged the government to encourage local communities to decide whether they want a casino complex based on the positive and negative outcomes of legalised gambling, as locals might be concerned about the possible social impact of such entertainment and gambling complexes.

He gave an example of how Malaysia allows legal casinos to operate in Genting Highlands despite the majority of the population being Muslim.

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