Thai police have arrested 93 suspects after raiding a temporary hotel casino for tourists organised by a gambling industry influencer from India, with detainees including a bank executive and the leader of an Indian political party.
The raid early on Monday morning (May 1) at the Asia Pattaya Hotel in Chonburi Province resulted in the arrest of six Thais, four Myanmar nationals and at least 83 Indian nationals, including organiser, casino operator and professional gambler Praveen Chikoti and his aide Madhav Reddy.
Other high-profile detainees from India’s Telangana state include Chitti Devender Reddy, chairman of the public utility Medak District Cooperative Central Bank (DCCB-Medak), and an unnamed leader of the Telangana-based political party Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS).
Thai and Indian media reports indicate that a hotel conference room had been booked from April 27 to May 1 to run the casino, with gambling equipment and table dealers brought in from India.
The Times of India quoted a Chonburi police chief as saying that police seized $2,000 in Indian currency, a ledger showing casino turnover of $12m, closed-circuit cameras, gambling equipment, cellphones and computers.
Gambling activity had been streamed to Hyderabad, Telangana’s capital city, the police said.
“We received a tip-off that several tourists from India had checked into the hotel on Saturday and were scheduled to check out on Monday,” Major General Kampol Leelaprapaporn told reporters.
“We were also told that the convention hall of the hotel was turned into a makeshift casino for the tourists.”
Chikoti is under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), India’s national anti-money laundering and foreign exchange watchdog.
The ED last year raided his home and other locations, and questioned Chikoti and Reddy over casino operations and gambling connections in Telangana and Goa states.
Indian media have linked Chikoti to ownership of a floor of Big Daddy Casino, one of several riverboat casinos in Goa, organisation of gambling trips to Nepal and cockfighting in India.