The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday its legislators would vote against an amendment to the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) that would legalize casinos on the nation’s outlying islands at today’s plenary session of the legislature.
“The government should not seek to legalize casinos without offering concrete and detailed supplementary measures to regulate gambling activities,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said.
Casinos alone would not improve local economies or benefit local residents, Tsai said. At the same time, outlying islands would suffer a deterioration in public safety, ecological damage and other social costs, she said.
Tsai said that although there was no clear public consensus on gambling, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration was rushing to pass the amendment.
She said she had asked all DPP legislators to vote against the bill today.
The nation’s outlying islands enjoy rich ecosystems and tourism resources, Tsai said.
The DPP said the KMT government had failed to propose measures to improve tourism to the islands, which it said would be the best way to boost local economic growth.
For years, representatives of islands such as Penghu have fought to legalize casinos, arguing that it would bring much-needed jobs and help the islands’ economies.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also proposed including a special “casino Article” in the Offshore Islands Development Act when he was running for president.
Gambling is illegal in Taiwan.
When asked for comment, KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) said the caucus would support the amendment if the Cabinet did not have any objections.
KMT caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said none of the caucus’ members opposed to the bill.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG