The Kathu District of Phuket Island has been a hotbed for illegal gambling activity, with multiple underground gaming facilities uncovered by authorities in the past few months. In the latest operation, carried out Tuesday evening, police has arrested a total of 59 gamblers, 39 of whom were surprisingly women.
On Wednesday, the Kathu Police announced a successful joint operation against an illegal gambling den was completed the previous night. Around 50 Thai soldiers stationed in the district along with police officers raided a house, which has been used as an underground casino. As seen by the photographs, released officially by authorities, the property has been set up and organized to offer games of chance and betting, which is illegal in the country and in the Phuket Province, as well.
The house, which has been raided last night, is located near the Tessaban 2 Baan Kathu School in the small residential district of Kathu. Although it is the smallest of the three districts of Phuket, it is home to the main and most popular beach resort on the island, Patong. Gambling in Thailand is prohibited, with only a few exceptions, namely the state-sponsored Thai Lottery and the betting on horse races. Various forms of gambling are, nevertheless, extremely popular among locals.
According to the Kathu Police, the illegal gambling den uncovered on Tuesday was used by a significant number of individuals, many of whom were, in fact, women. When the house was raided, gamblers were caught playing a locally popular card game for money. Officers arrested 19 male and 39 female gamblers who were later taken to the Kathu Police Station and charged with participating in illegal gambling activities. In addition, THB195,910 (approximately US$5,938) in cash was seized, along with gambling paraphernalia.
Boom of Illegal Gambling Dens across Phuket Island
The police explained that the joint operation between officers and the Thai military had been organized in advance after they had received a tip-off that illegal gambling was carried out somewhere in the area. Officers launched an investigation and collected witness reports before raiding the alleged gambling den. This approach has apparently proven to be more successful than previous attempts at uncovering underground gambling rings and properties used for illegal activity.
Less than a month ago, officers of the Kathu Police and soldiers from the Royal Thai Army raided a suspected gambling den in Kathu. Once again, the house was furnished and set up like a casino – with gaming tables, sitting areas, etc. The raid was not particularly successful, however, as all gamblers and participants had fled the crime scene before the arrival of the police. The only person who was arrested was a 72-year-old man, who was simply too old to run from the soldiers. Apart from being a pensioner, he was the alleged manager of the gambling den.
The somewhat surprising finding of the latest anti-gambling operation on the island is that the majority of gamblers were women. Gambling and casinos are prohibited in Thailand but are widespread among people who consider real-money games a form of recreational activity apart from purely a way to make a profit.