Police in Thailand say they dismantled on Saturday an illegal casino in Patttaya, a popular beach destination southeast of the national capital Bangkok. A total of 21 people was arrested.
The detentions followed a raid at an apartment in a condominium at Jomtien Beach. The venue allegedly had been operating as an illegal gambling den, reported local media outlet the Pattaya Mail.
Five Thai nationals were held, along with 16 foreigners. The latter comprised 14 Chinese nationals, a Singaporean and a Cambodian. Five of the Chinese nationals had overstayed their visas and the Cambodian had entered Thailand illegally, added the report, quoting the police.
The Pattaya Mail cited a Thai police official saying the local authorities were stepping up enforcement against illegal casinos after a gambling den in Rayong in east Thailand was found to be linked to a Covid-19 outbreak in the country last month.
Casino gambling is illegal in Thailand. Thai nationals traditionally are regarded as an important target market for some casinos in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, such as Cambodia. Travel restrictions related by the Covid-19 pandemic have reduced significantly visitor flows between Thailand and other countries.
According to a 2016 estimate, were casino gambling to be legalised in Thailand, it could bring the country annual tax revenues of over THB100 billion (US$2.8 billion at the time).