Citizens on Taiwan’s outlying island chain of Penghu (pictured) have again voted against the idea of allowing casino resorts – this time by an overwhelming margin. Of those who turned out, 81 percent were opposed to the idea, and only 19 percent were in favour.
The China Post newspaper reported – quoting the Penghu County election board – that 26,598 votes were cast against the idea, with only 6,210 in favour. A total of 216 votes were adjudged spoiled. The referendum turnout was reported to be just under 40 percent.
A spokesman for the pro-casino lobby had told GGRAsia prior to the ballot that he feared a low turnout could hurt his side’s chances.
A total of 83,469 Penghu residents were eligible to vote, according to the most recent figures released by the local election commission.
In a September 2009 referendum on the same topic, more than 17,000 Penghu residents – or 56.4 percent of those that voted – snubbed a proposal to allow casino resorts there. The turnout in 2009 was said to have been approximately 50 percent.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), reiterated on Wednesday at a DPP Central Standing Committee meeting the party’s opposition to the opening of casinos in Penghu County.
The DPP said on Saturday it respected the results and the government would help Penghu upgrade its tourism industry and infrastructure, reported news agency AFP.
“The overall development should be oriented to ecological, sustainable and cultural demands,” the DPP said in a statement quoted by the news agency.
A prohibition on commercial casino gambling – in relation to Taiwan’s outlying island chains of Matsu, of Kinmen and of Penghu – was lifted in 2009 by Taiwan’s government. In a referendum in July 2012, the residents of Matsu voted in favour of casino resorts as a means of attracting tourists and boosting the local economy. But further legislation would be required by Taipei to make such facilities a reality. A ban on casino gaming still applies to Taiwan’s main island.
A note on Sunday from brokerage Union Gaming Seciurities Asia Ltd stated: “Any gaming development in Taiwan remains long-dated as the legislature would tackle gaming expansion via two bills; one to decriminalise and a second to establish a framework.”
“This would then be followed by a request for proposal process. Therefore a best-case scenario is that integrated resort operations are five years away from any point the legislature chooses to move forward – and we believe the legislature is unlikely to do this during President Tsai’s four-year term that began this past May,” wrote analyst Grant Govertsen.
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”Given that the blanket casino closure [in Macau due to Typhoon Mangkhut] happened on an all-important weekend day… we expect that somewhere between MOP1.1 billion [US$136.2 million] and MOP1.5 billion in GGR will be lost”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia