Singapore an inspiration for gambling

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jul 25, 2008 - Page 12

Taiwan should learn from Singapore about developing a casino industry as the city-state made foreign developers help construct infrastructure projects and boost living standards when they set up gambling facilities there, government officials said yesterday.

Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源), who is pushing for casino resorts in central Taiwan, said the central government should approach the issue from a broad perspective.

Cho urged the executive and legislative branches to lift a ban on the gambling industry, noting that Singapore has issued two licenses to foreign developers.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politician said gambling facilities account for only 5 percent of the two investment projects in Singapore, which will also include conference centers, movie theaters and other recreational venues.

Singapore believes the two projects will enrich its treasury, improve its standard of living and improve its international stature, he said, and so issued licenses to the Las Vegas Sands Corp and Malaysia’s Genting Group.

Cho said the Changhua County Government has set aside a massive plot of land in the coastal area that could be turned into an integrated amusement resort.

Hung Tung-lin (洪棟霖), director of Penghu County’s tourism bureau, also voiced support for the Singaporean model, but said Penghu was a better choice for the industry.

Singapore was wise to issue just two licenses, as one would foster a monopoly and three or more could lead to oversupply, he said, adding that South Korea showed what could happen when a government limited development of casino resorts.

“The absence of other recreational facilities prompts tourists to go to Macau instead,” Hung said.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had said the government would consider Penghu first if it were to allow casinos, he said.