Thai Authorities Target Facebook and Twitter in Illegal Gambling Crackdown

Government officials in Thailand are going after social media giants Facebook and Twitter for failing to prevent illegal online gambling activity. The country is extremely conservative regarding gambling and formal complaints were filed last week against the two companies as they did not comply to previous court rulings where online gambling content must be blocked from residents in the country.

The Computer Crime Act and Gambling Act of Thailand requires that any content that promotes gambling services or products in the country must be banned. In no way, should anything related to gambling be promoted in the region.

This move against Facebook and Twitter comes at a time when the country is quickly cracking down on illegal online gambling. Earlier this week, lawmakers put out a warning that internet service providers in the region as well as telecom operators must block access to over 1,200 offshore gambling sites the country says is illegal.

The providers have a total of 15 days to block the sites based on the court order. The social media sites were also issued the order and did not comply within the 15-day time frame.

Local media is reporting that Facebook blocked only 215 of over 660 accounts associated with gambling. Twitter only blocked four of 69 accounts. For their inaction, the two social media companies now face fines of THB200,000. This is equal to $6,300. Until all the accounts are locked, Facebook and Twitter will incur daily fines.

Currently, the only legalized gambling options in Thailand are government-run lotteries and horse race betting. The crackdown on illegal online gambling services takes place shortly after one lawmaker began pushing for digital gaming, sports betting and land-based casino legalization.

Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, the leader of the Thai Civilized Party, would like to see the gambling market reorganized to bring in new revenues to the local economy.

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