Kinmen residents reject casino legalization
In Taiwan, residents of the outlying island province of Kinmen reportedly voted overwhelmingly on Saturday against a proposal that would have legalized casino gambling.
According to a report from the Bloomberg news service, the referendum on whether to permit casinos was scheduled after a member of the Kinmen County Council, Tsai Chun-Sheng, led a campaign over the summer that successfully collected 5,602 signatures asking for the vote to be held. Kinmen is located a little over a mile off of the coast of mainland China and Tsai had argued that legalizing gambling could help to boost the local economy, which currently relies largely on tourism.
However, in the end the pro-casino camp managed to collect only 9.9% of the vote while some 24,368 residents of the six-island province cast their ballot against the proposal with turnout reported as hitting just under 24.2%.
Bloomberg explained that gambling is not allowed on mainland Taiwan but legislators ratified an amendment to the Offshore Islands Development Act in January of 2009 that permits the country’s offshore island provinces to establish casinos if residents agree via a referendum.
According to a report from GGRAsia, the fellow Taiwanese archipelago province of Penghu held similar referendums on whether to legalize casinos in 2009 and 2016 with both ballots resulting in a majority of voters coming out in opposition to legalized gambling including by an overwhelming 81% last time out. By contrast, residents of the nearby Matsu chain approved legalized gambling via a referendum in July of 2012 but the process soon stalled after federal legislators were unable to agree on relevant regulations.
Bloomberg reported that Taiwan’s President, Tasi Ing-Wen from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, has long been opposed to legalizing casinos and last year dropped legislation that would have established rules for regulating the industry.