A referendum among residents – regarding whether Taiwan’s outlying island chain of Penghu will allow casino gaming within its county boundary – will be held on October 15, Taiwanese media reported, citing a decision made by the county election committee on Monday.
The results of the referendum will be announced before October 22, according to the reports in Taiwan’s Chinese-language media. They cited the Penghu election committee as the source of the information.
The mid-October referendum will mark the second time that the eligible electorate in Penghu has been asked to vote on the casino issue. A Penghu referendum held in September 2009 resulted in more than 17,000 Penghu residents voting against such a plan for their county.
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. A ban on such activity still applies to the main island.
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 it would still be up to Taiwan’s central government to authorise the regulation of casino resorts on outlying islands.
There have been disputes between the pro-casino lobby and the antis during four days of what the county election committee described as “explanation sessions”, Taiwan’s Chinese-language media outlets reported. The sessions were held last week.
Groups opposing casino gaming in Penghu have asked the county government to host at least two sessions of public debate on the subject, ahead of the referendum, Taiwan’s Chinese-language newspaper Liberty Times reported.
The success of Taiwan’s casino industry could depend on mainland China’s visa policies, several investment analysts have noted. 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 that gained the right to operate casinos.
The Matsu chain is only a few kilometres from the mainland Chinese city of Fuzhou in Fujian province, while the Kinmen chain is only a few kilometres from Xiamen in Fujian.
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