Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Legislative Yuan to decide on island casinos: speaker

OPPORTUNITY The DPP caucus wants officials to propose a set of measures to improve tourism on the islands while they vote on legalizing casino gaming

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Legislative Yuan will vote on an amendment to the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) that seeks to legitimize the operation of casinos on the nation’s outlying islands during tomorrow’s plenary session, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday.

During a meeting with Penghu County Commissioner Wang Chien-fa (王乾發) in the legislature, the speaker said lawmakers across party lines had agreed to discuss the bill as “the timing seemed ripe.”

Wang did not elaborate on his remarks, but a consensus among legislators could be seen as a major breakthrough for the long-stalled issue.

For years, representatives of islands such as Penghu have been fighting for the opportunity to house casinos, arguing that it will bring much-needed jobs and boost local economies.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also proposed to include a special “casino article” in the Offshore Islands Development Act when he was running for president.

Gambling is illegal in Taiwan.

The Democratic Progressive Party caucus said that the government should propose a set of measures to improve tourism on the islands while the government considers legalizing casinos.

During a report to the president on Dec. 26 last year, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) gave its blessing to the development of a gambling industry on the islands to boost tourism and economic growth.

CEPD Vice Chairman Huang Wan-shiang (黃萬翔) said governments of the islands still needed to win the support of more than half of their residents before the governments could begin soliciting potential casino investors.

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