I've read that cards have actually been outlawed a while ago in Thailand to crack down gambling. I know that it's illegal to own poker chips as that's classified as gambling paraphernalia, but what else is outlawed?

Some have also claimed that dice and some board games aren't allowed there, but I haven't been able to verify those claims.

What are the do's and don'ts in Thailand when it comes to card games/board games/misc. games? This question is about both legal repercussions and cultural stigma.

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    Good question -- there are a wide range of dice games that are not gambling games per se, after all... – UnrecognizedFallingObject Dec 3 '14 at 2:51

With the exception of the government approved lottery and a couple of horse racing venues, gambling of any kind is prohibited in Thailand.

Blatant gambling devices such as poker chips, roulette wheels, etc are banned in Thailand. Multi-function gaming items, such as playing cards, are not. And likewise general board games are legal as well.

The playing card rule is that it is illegal to sell playing cards in Thailand, it is not illegal to use them to play non-gambling games. It is one of those laws that makes you go "what the .... were they thinking" However, the police and the courts have very wide latitude when it comes to deciding if the games, cards, etc are/were being used for any activity where money changes hands. And being a tourist is not an excuse before the judge. Plenty of foreigners have been sent home with a less than desirable deportation stamp in their passports.

On the other side of the coin, the Thais love to gamble and play cards, same as folks from elsewhere in the world. Friendly card games happen throughout the country, out of sight of the local constabulary, but not really hidden from view.

As a tourist visiting or an expat living here, you need not worry about having a board game or three to enjoy at home or to keep the kids occupied. But engaging in any gambling games runs the risk of fines, jail time or deportation.

  • Thanks! A final question, and slightly off topic; but since you can't sell/buy cards in Thailand, do you know if you're allowed to bring some with you in your luggage? – Halaster Dec 3 '14 at 15:39
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    As a visitor you could have a deck of cards. But I wouldn't bring more than one. – user13044 Dec 4 '14 at 0:55

Wrong information.

You can buy playing cards quite legally in many shops in Thailand. 7/11 stocks them. They are expensive due to the high taxes charged, I believe one deck costs a ridiculous 400 Baht.

It is illegal to posess more than 120 cards that have not been purchased with the Thai tax paid.

It is illegal to import ANY number of cards. Maximum fine is 4 * price of similar cards sold in Thailand and maximum jailtime of 10 years.


However I doubt if a single deck brought in by a tourist would cause any problems, just don't play with them in front of the immigration/customs desks.....

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