Fri, May 03, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet approves draft bill for casinos on islands

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Cabinet yesterday approved a draft bill on the operation and administration of casino gambling in outlying islands, under which people aged below 20 or gamblers who were put on watch lists by their families would be banned from casinos.

According to the draft, operators of casinos would be mandated to impose entry bans on certain groups of people, including people who are younger than than 20 or under judicial tutelage, and people working at dedicated or regulatory betting agencies.

At the request of their family members, close relatives or partners, as defined under the draft, these agencies would be able to demand that casino operators apply the ban to people who are addicted to gambling, who are recipients of government allowances, have been declared bankrupt or who have a bad credit record, among others.

The government is required to draft the legislation by the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例), under which a referendum to allow a casino to be built in the outlying island chain of Matsu was held in July last year. The referendum passed, with 56 percent of Matsu voters in favor and 42 percent opposed.

At a press conference held following the Cabinet meeting, Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said the government is not considering developing casinos on Taiwan proper, rejecting an idea proposed by Hon Hai Group (鴻海集團) chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) and some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers.

Yeh said he expected that an international casino resort offering gambling, hotel, convention and other facilities could be established in Matsu in 2019 at the earliest.

For the first 20 years following the establishment of casinos in the outlying islands, no tax would be imposed on casino winnings, the draft states. Local governments would be entitled to impose a tax on casino operators, capped at a maximum of 7 percent of their revenues.

Casino operators would have to pay franchise fees to the central government for the first 15 years of operation, equal to 7 percent of their revenue, with the tax rate increasing to 8 percent from the 16th to 25th years, and to 9 percent from the 26th year onward.

The draft is to be sent to the legislature for deliberation.

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