Thu, Aug 23, 2001 - Page 8

Don't bad mouth casinos

Brian Kennedy's recent article against casinos on Penghu paints a very negative view of the gaming industry for the economic development of the outlying islands (Taiwan mustn't gamble on casinos, Aug. 18).

The real danger for Taiwan is ignoring the more corrosive nature of insufficiently regulated gambling which is already the present norm in Taiwan, according to Kennedy's article.

Here in Las Vegas, the gaming industry is tightly regulated under the watchful eye of the paternalistic state gaming authorities, and the casinos are quite loathe to do anything which might jeopardize their precious gaming licenses.

Actually, Kennedy's article potentially undermines the confidence of Nevadans in their industry seeking to do business in an under-regulated place like Taiwan.

The notion that anything goes in Las Vegas is incorrect, especially if it is occurring outside the city. The Nevada Gaming Commission pays very close attention to the foreign activities of casinos they license in this state, because criminal activity abroad is grounds to cancel their official permission to own or operate gaming establishments in Nevada.

Ignorance is bliss, and by writing from an Ivory Tower, Kennedy does a great disservice to those advancing a sounder reputation of Taiwan abroad with respect to the current conditions of Taiwan gambling.

My worst fear is that Penghu residents will lose out on the opportunity for reputable gaming interests from Las Vegas to construct a beautiful island resort environment for the enjoyment of all Taiwanese tourists.

Whether or not to gamble when visiting an attractive vacation resort destination is a matter of personal choice, but then perhaps those individuals prone to more irresponsible behavior should not be legally investing in the Taiwan stock market either.

If we were to follow Kennedy's advice too closely, we would perpetuate the status quo of hidden gaming activities, and the gaming regulatory environment of Taiwan would too closely resemble that of the PRC as found in the Macau Special Administrative Region.

Regulated gambling is no more dangerous than living in the shadow of China. But then, the pursuit of Taiwanese independence or advocating human rights as "inalienable" under the Taiwan Relations Act is a big gamble not for the faint of heart.

It also separates the men from the boys.

Jeffrey Geer

Las Vegas, Nevada