Residents in Taiwan’s outlying island of Penghu (pictured) could vote again on whether to allow casinos in the county, reports Taiwan’s Central News Agency. The local government’s Referendum Screening Committee on Friday approved a proposal to hold a referendum early next year.
The residents are expected to cast ballots after Taiwan’s January 16 presidential election and before the May 20 presidential inauguration next year, said the media outlet.
The proposal will now be sent to the Cabinet headed by Taiwan’s premier for screening. If it is approved, 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 in Penghu, to allow it to be sent to the election committee to prepare for a referendum.
If the referendum takes place in early 2016 that would be almost seven years after the first referendum 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 lifted a 15-year prohibition on gambling on its outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu in 2009. In a referendum in July 2012, the residents of Matsu Island voted in favour of casinos to help attract tourists.
Enabling legislation to allow casinos on Taiwan’s outlying islands has been stalled at the national level. It is unclear as to when it may next be tabled.
The success of Taiwan’s casino industry however could depend on mainland China’s visa policies. Mainland China officials earlier this year have ruled out the idea of that country’s citizens being allowed to gamble in Taiwan casinos if such schemes ever come to fruition.
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"If the [Macau casino] concessions are put up for bid, there will also be a lot of giant Chinese companies, some having nothing to do with gaming, which would like to take over these enormously successful casinos”
Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau