Sufficient signatures could be gathered by next month to trigger a local referendum on whether Taiwan’s outlying island chain of Penghu (pictured) will in principle allow casino gaming in its county boundary, Taiwan’s Chinese-language media reported.
It would still be up to Taiwan’s central government to authorise the regulation of such a resort or resorts.
A prohibition on gambling – in relation to Taiwan’s outlying island chains of Matsu, of Kinmen and of Penghu – was lifted by Taiwan’s government in 2009. In a referendum in July 2012, the residents of Matsu voted in favour of casinos in order to attract tourists and boost the local economy. A previous referendum on the topic in Penghu produced a ‘no’ vote.
News on a possible new Penghu referendum is cited as coming from a local group pushing for the legalisation of casino gaming in Penghu. It is known as the “Alliance Promoting Internationalisation of Penghu”, Chinese-language media outlets the Penghu Times and China Times reported. The referendum can be held in June if the signatures required are all gathered by next month, the alliance told reporters.
Groups pushing for the legalisation of casino gaming in Penghu will have to collect signatures amounting to 5 percent of the 82,269 eligible voters, or 4,113 voters in the island, to allow the petition to be sent to the election committee to prepare for a referendum.
The alliance’s head, Chen Meng, said his group is confident of gathering at least 6,000 signatures to hold the referendum, China Times reported.
People from, or close to, Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have been actively supporting the new referendum for Penghu, both the Penghu Times and China Times reported, citing unidentified sources. The office of the “Alliance Promoting Internationalisation of Penghu” is also reported to be based at the election headquarters of the Penghu county head and DPP member, Chen Kuang-fu.
If the referendum takes place in Penghu in June as reported, that would be almost seven years after the first referendum on the topic was held in the county. More than 17,000 Penghu residents voted against a plan to allow casino resorts in a referendum in September 2009.
Taiwan’s parliament is yet to approve a draft bill to regulate casino gambling within Taiwan’s boundaries.
The success of Taiwan’s casino industry could depend on mainland China’s visa policies, several investment analysts have said. Mainland China officials last year ruled out the idea of that country’s citizens being allowed to travel to any of Taiwan’s outlying islands gaining the right to operate casinos.
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”I don’t see this project [Lisboeta Macau] will just go for the existing market clientele. The clientele I’m going for is… family [travellers]. This is a four-star resort and the pricing will be benchmarked against other four-star hotels in Cotai.”
Director of Macau Theme Park and Resort