Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Sports lottery due to start by April 15 in spite of scandal

FLAGGING INTEREST An official blamed past baseball game-fixing scandals for a sharp drop in game attendance to 2,000 people per game

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The government will continue to push for the launch of a sports lottery despite a recent scandal in which several local professional baseball players were questioned on suspicion of having accepted bribes to rig their games, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Chin-Jun (陳景峻) said yesterday.

The sports lottery is slated to be officially launched by April 15 next year at the latest, Chen said in an interview.

The Sports Affairs Council is currently in charge of planning the lottery, he said.

Expressing his great disappointment over the scandal, Chen said that previous baseball fixing scandals had caused a sharp drop in game attendance to 2,000 people per game.

Chen said that the nation had produced a series of outstanding baseball players, some of whom were playing professionally for baseball teams in other countries.

The scandal involving players here will hurt the image of these overseas baseball players and Taiwanese baseball in general, he said.

At present, there are three bidders for the license to operate the sports lottery: Chinatrust Commercial Bank, Taipei Fubon Bank, and the Bank of Kaohsiung, a Ministry of Finance official said.

The winner of the license will be announced on Sept. 3, the official said.

Meanwhile, in other news, Chen said the government would not allow casinos to be established before a consensus is reached among various sectors of society.

Chen reiterated the government's stance on the issue, adding that the Cabinet would not put any casino-related bills on a priority list to be referred to the Legislative Yuan for approval during its upcoming session.

Chen's remarks followed the opening of a new casino in Macau that has drawn renewed attention to the issue in Taiwan.

Media reports said earlier that the government had decided to issue three casino operating licenses, which sparked heated debate.

However, Chen said that none of the more than 80 priority bills that the Cabinet would submit to the legislature for review concerned gambling.

He said that the priority bills were related to the government budget, public welfare and economic development.

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