Sun, Jan 25, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Public still divided over casinos

OPPOSITION A small number of respondents to a poll on the casinos felt that they should be limited only to foreigners if they are to be opened on offshore islands

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A recent government survey showed that the public remained divided over whether the country should develop casinos, no matter whether they were established on Taiwan proper or outlying islands.

The Executive Yuan旧 Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (RDEC) on Monday released a survey of public sentiment towards the issue of casinos.

After the passage of an amendment to the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) earlier this month, the government had legalized casino gambling on offshore islands if a casino plan was approved by local residents in a referendum.

The survey, conducted in July, showed that 34.3 percent of residents living in Taiwan proper were in support of casinos, 9.6 percent gave conditional support, 36.6 percent were in opposition to casinos and the other 19.9 percent had no opinion.

Among polled residents living on the islands of Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu, 42.2 percent supported casinos, 5.2 percent conditionally supported casinos, while 36.1 percent were against them and 16.5 percent had no opinion.

The survey showed a significant concern among the public about the effect of casinos.

When asked to give reasons for opposing the opening of casinos, 55.4 percent of respondents from offshore islands said they worried that casinos would have a negative impact on public order, while 40.6 percent said casinos would have a bad influence on the social climate.

These two factors also ranked as the first two concerns for the polled respondents in Taiwan proper.

When asked what the government needed to heed when mapping out casino plans, 40.3 percent of respondents from offshore islands said that casinos should only be built within international resorts that might include hotels and other tourism facilities.

Other than the location concerns, 31.7 percent of respondents said the government had to be sure that the establishment of casinos would not worsen tranquility and public order.

The survey showed that 77.9 percent of the public in Taiwan proper and 69 percent of the public on outlying islands agreed that Taiwanese should be allowed to visit casinos, while 9.3 percent of the public in Taiwan proper and 14.1 percent in the outlying islands preferred that casinos be limited to foreigners.

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