The offshore island group of Matsu is likely to attract a large number of Chinese tourist gamblers, observers said yesterday, a day after residents voted to allow Taiwan’s first casino.
A wave of visitors from China could provide a welcome boost to the cluster of islets close to the China coast, as detente in the Taiwan Strait has caused a decline in income from military personnel, they said.
“People that are looking to building casinos anywhere in Taiwan are eyeing Chinese tourists,” said Anita Chen, a Taipei-based managing director for US-based lobbying firm Park Strategies and an expert on the gaming industry.
A total of 1,795 people voted “yes” in Saturday’s referendum on allowing a casino while 1,341 voted against it and 28 cast invalid votes, the Lienchiang County Government said, adding the turnout rate among eligible voters was 40 percent.
This is in sharp contrast to residents of Penghu, who voted against hosting gambling facilities in 2009.
The difference is that whereas Penghu has a solid infrastructure and healthy tourism industry, Matsu, with a population of about 10,000, is being hit much harder by the gradual drawdown of troops in the Taiwan Strait.
As many as 50,000 soldiers were stationed in Matsu during the Cold War, but the number is now down to just 3,000, partly reflecting the dramatic improvement in ties with China in recent years.
However, even proponents of introducing gambling have suggested that a thriving casino business is years in the future.
“We don’t know when the government will start issuing gambling licences,” said Lienchiang County Commissioner Yang Sui-sheng (楊綏生) who administers the Matsu archipelago. “We hope it’ll be as soon as possible, so the entire process [of setting up a casino] can be completed within a period of three to five years.”
The central government will also have to decide on practical matters, such as which ministry will be in charge of overseeing the Matsu gambling industry.
“Probably, they’ll need three to five years at the earliest,” Chen said.
A draft gambling act has gone through two amendments and is still being processed by the Cabinet, but could be passed within the next year, she said.
After that, it could take a year for the government to put together a bid for an operator, and once a winner has been found, it could be another three years before the casino has been built and is ready for operation, she said.
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
The National Taiwan Museum’s Railway Department Park in Taipei is to open to the public today. The park in Datong District (大同) near the North Gate (北門, Beimen) is one of the museum’s four branches. During the Japanese colonial era, the site housed the railway department of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan’s Bureau of Transportation. After World War II, it served as the headquarters for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for several decades. In 2007, it was listed as a national monument under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). At an opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung