Taiwan legislators seek abolition of local referendums on casino gaming

Four Taiwanese legislators are proposing to strip the people’s power to decide on casino gaming in their jurisdiction.

Taiwan Central News Agency reported that Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party legislators Lin Ching-yi, Yang Yao, Chen Man-li and Wu Yu-chin were all moving to strike off Article 10-2 from the island nation’s Offshore Island Development Act.

The particular article provides that a casino resort can be “opened” as long as more than half the valid votes cast in any outlying island referendum approve the setting up of such an establishment.

According to reports, the proposal to remove outlying islands’ rights to casino referendums has already been submitted to the Economics Committee of Taiwan’s single-chamber parliament, the Legislative Yuan.

The committee will thoroughly review the proposal of the four DPP legislators before they send it to the Taiwan legislators for a second reading.

For these legislators, holding referendums – like what happened during the referendums in Penghu and Matsu – costs the government too much money.

Lin believes by abolishing Article 10-2, the government will be able to save administrative resources. She added that gaming was not a concept supported either by popular opinion in Taiwan or by trends in the regional industry.

In joining calls for the abolition of casino referendums, Yang pointed out that any development of casino gaming on an outlying island of Taiwan would be dependent on mainland Chinese patrons – a model that could easily lead to failure, and amounted to a “lack of competitiveness.”

Coincidentally, the move of the DPP legislators comes at a time when an official from the Kuomintang political party filed a petition with the Kinmen County government to hold a referendum on legalizing gambling in the island.

The referendum may pave the way for casinos to be established in the country. The proponents, however, need to gather 6,307 signatures in order to get the appropriate election committee to prepare for a referendum.

If all goes according to plan, this could be the third time a Taiwanese outlying island will hold a referendum on gambling after the government lifted the 15-year prohibition on gambling on the islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu in September 2009.

Calvin Ayre

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