Thais are expected to spend an estimated Bt69 billion (S$2.65 billion) during the upcoming football World Cup in Brazil - with gambling on matches forecast to generate Bt43.5 billion alone, according to a University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) survey.
The total amount represents a 16-per-cent increase in spending compared to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and a 6.6 per cent rise compared to Euro 2012.
However, despite expected higher spending during this tournament benefiting the economy, the expected huge outlay on gambling could create economic and societal problems, Thanavath Phonvichai, director of UTCC's Economic and Business Forecasting Centre, said yesterday.
"From a total amount of almost Bt70 billion in a month, only about Bt26 billion will be injected into the economy … it seems that people of late have shown less of an interest in football matches themselves and more interest in the potential benefits of gambling during a time of economic recovering," he said.
He called for relevant government agencies to closely monitor the gambling problem.
Thanavath pointed out that with spending during the World Cup and farmers receiving payments under the rice-pledging scheme, the economy will show a clearer sign of recovering soon.
A UTCC poll of 1,229 people showed that 50.6 per cent of respondents expect to make a return from gambling during the tournament June 12 to July 13 compared to 43 per cent during the Euro finals in 2012. Almost 50 per cent said they would watch games but would not gamble.
The average spend on gambling during the event will be Bt5,072 per person, the UTCC found, with the main sources of funds salary (53.8 per cent), savings (21.9 per cent), bonuses (11.5 per cent), parents (9.9 per cent) and loans (2.9 per cent).
Kalin Sarasin, secretary general to the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said that many businesses would enjoy growth during the tournament.