One might expect to find many legal casinos in Pattaya littering the strip. After all, Pattaya is known as the “sin city” of Asia because it’s atmosphere and amenities closely resemble that of the real sin city, Las Vegas, which is perhaps the gambling capital of the world.
Pattaya has almost all of the same trappings as Las Vegas such as wild clubs, all-night parties, illegal drugs, and prostitution. One vice that is conspicuously missing from Pattaya, though, is the legal gambling that is so prevalent along the strip in Las Vegas. You will definitely not find any legitimate casinos with their gaudy neon signs anywhere along Walking Street.
There is just about every other sort of debauchery, so why not casinos? Gambling is outlawed in Thailand so there are no legitimate casinos to be found anywhere in the country. But prostitution is outlawed as well, and we all know that is a thriving business here.
Where to Gamble in Pattaya
But don’t worry, if your heart is set on gambling during your trip to Pattaya, there are still ways to satisfy your craving. Many tourists and Thai people alike enjoy gambling, they just have to find ways of doing it out of the sight of the authorities. Because of this, there is a thriving underground gambling contingent in Pattaya City.
Small groups of gamblers can easily go unnoticed in Pattaya, but any organized larger group of people who gamble must usually pay “tea money” to the police to keep their activities going. This is a bribe that must be payed to the authorities to keep them from prosecuting or shutting down their illegal gambling activities.
This kind of payment is quite common in Thailand, not only for gamblers but for many different kinds of things. Many bar owners must pay this protection money as well or else face consequences from the corrupt local police. As a Thai police officer once said to me, “you’re not in America anymore”.
So don’t come to Pattaya looking to win big at the slot machines in the local casinos. If you want to gamble in Thailand you will need to find a hidden game to play in, and you’ll probably need to know a few local people or expats in order to find one straightaway.
My advice is, if your primary reason to holiday is to gamble in legal casinos, then you definitely shouldn’t come to Pattaya. Macau would be a better choice as it is the closest city to Pattaya with legal gambling and probably the best city for casinos in south east Asia. But Patts will serve you well for just about any other sort of fun you might be looking for on your vacation, even if there are no legal casinos in Pattaya.