A group of anti-gambling young adults from Matsu will monitor the government’s policy on opening a casino there, the group convener said after Matsu residents voted on Saturday in favor of approving casino resorts. Results of the referendum saw a turnout of 40.76 percent, with 1,795 Matsu residents voting in favor of the project, and 1,341 voting against.
Tsao Ya-ping (曹雅評), who led the group of young people in an anti-gambling campaign in the run-up to the referendum, said many residents felt that they had no choice but to support the casino resort proposal. Although they did not want a casino, they desired the improved transportation infrastructure that the local government said could be brought about by the launch of the casino project, Tsao said.
The Lienchiang County Government, which administers Matsu, has recently proposed allowing the opening of the casino resort to boost economic development and improve transportation facilities.
Citing the low turnout of the referendum, Tsao expressed her belief that for many Matsu residents, it was difficult to decide whether to support the casino.
However, now that the referendum has passed, Tsai said she expected the central and local governments to map out sound policies for opening the casino resort on the outlying island.
The government should take into account issues such as how to maintain public security once a casino is opened and how to protect Matsu’s beauty, which makes it a quiet getaway for backpackers and couples, she said.
Because the casino resort will not be completed for several years at the earliest, Tsao said, it is equally important for the government to assist in upgrading the local tourism industry to boost the economy.
Tsao said the anti-gambling group would keep a close eye on the government’s follow-up policies.
Under the Lienchiang County Government’s proposal, resort developer Weidner Resorts Taiwan is planning to build a resort in Matsu that will include the casino.
The company has also promised to contribute to an upgrading of the airport on Beigan Island (北竿島) and to build a college town there, as well as a causeway linking Beigan and adjacent Nangan (南竿), the two main islands of the Matsu group.