Residents of Penghu, one of the country’s outlying islands, will be given a choice on whether to permit new casino developments in the area in an attempt to boost tourism.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] referendum on whether to allow casino gaming in the Taiwanese island of Penghu is being held on the 15 October as the government hopes to boost the country’s vital tourist economy.
The question is being put to the residents of Penghu after more than 5,000 eligible voters signed a petition on the subject, meaning that – under Taiwan’s Offshore Islands Development Act of 2009 – gambling legalisation could be put to a public vote.
Lobbyists in favour of the move have pointed to the job creation, taxation and potential tourism benefits of casino resorts, but the legislation is unlikely to have an easy ride.
Back in 2009, Penghu residents faced a similar question, with more than 56 percent of voters quashing plans to build a casino complex on the island. Under Taiwan’s Referendum Act, a defeated referendum cannot be put to another public vote for at least another three years.
Now, anti-gaming groups are hitting back fiercely against the bill and calling for at least two public debates ahead of the referendum.
If the bill does manage to garner widespread support, the legislation will be put back to the central government of Taiwan to sign into law. In such a case, analysts have suggested that casinos could come to Penghu within five years, likely operating under a strict regulatory framework and high taxation.