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Thailand’s Early Casino Regulations May Not Be Enough To Attract U.S. Businesses, Analyst Warns

The gaming floor of the MGM Resorts International casino in Springfield, Massachusetts. Photographer: Lane Turner/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Seaport Research chief analyst Vitaly Umansky raised concerns that Thailand’s initial casino restrictions may not be strong enough to attract major U.S. operators. In a note released Friday, Umansky assessed the possibility of U.S.-based Wynn Resorts entering the Thai market, suggesting that the current regulatory environment is not yet conducive to such interventions.

“This market is too early to gauge whether Wynn will eventually be able to participate, but our idea for Thailand at the moment is that the market won’t be ready for U.S. regulators to participate,” Umansky said, according to Inside Asian Gaming.

Wynn Resorts, along with other prominent U.S. operators such as MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands (LVS), showed interest in Thailand. However, their public comments on the casino outlook in Thailand were particularly cautious about the quality and strength of the emerging legislation.

During LVS’ first quarter 2024 earnings call, Chairman and CEO Robert Goldstein described Thailand as a “very, very exciting market” but stressed that it was still in the early stages of the development process. “It’s still in its infancy and … We still have that number and work to understand it,” he said.

Wynn showed interest in the Thai market, but is currently working on developing an integrated resort in Ras al-Khaima, UAE. Wynn Al-Majan will be the only casino in the region, scheduled to open in early 2027. Wumanski noted that the UAE property could generate Wynn $300 million in annual cash flow, but warned that further casino developments could influence this prediction.

“We see that the market can handle two unified resorts,” he explained. “A key risk for the property will be the opening of Dubai (which is more likely than Abu Dhabi).”

MGM Resorts has also shown interest in Dubai. However, MGM has indicated that Abu Dhabi could be an alternative region if Dubai decides not to allow games.

Thai legislation is still uncertain

The timeline for introducing legal casino games in Thailand appears to be long. Thailand’s initial economic corridors with legal casino games may not open until 2029. Up to eight integrated casino resorts could be developed if the study, which was passed by the lower house, wins final cabinet approval.

Maybank Investment Bank selected the Eastern Economic Corridor as Thailand’s first legitimate casino site. Assuming that bids for integrated resorts are approved within this year, the development period could reach about five years. The schedule suggests that Thailand’s first casino could start operating before or around MGM Resorts International’s $10 billion integrated resort in Osaka, Japan, which is scheduled to open in 2030.

While the Thai government continues to deliberate on casino regulations, the cautious stance of U.S. operators underscores the importance of a strong legislative framework for attracting foreign investment. Without strong regulations, Thailand could have a hard time attracting major U.S. casino companies to the burgeoning gaming market. 에볼루션 바카라사이트



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