Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday responded positively to Hon Hai Group (鴻海集團) chairman Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) idea that a special casino area be set up in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Tamsui District (淡水) to boost the economy.
The Executive Yuan has a high regard for Gou’s opinions, but there are some problems that needed to be resolved, Jiang said in response to reporters’ questions, adding that his Cabinet would endeavor to make that happen.
At a ceremony held on Monday to mark the reopening of business after the Lunar New Year holiday, Gou proposed that New Taipei City build a casino industry — modeled on Las Vegas — in a multipurpose recreational area that can also accommodate convention and exhibition facilities in Tamsui.
Gambling in Taiwan is prohibited under the Criminal Code, but amendments to the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) in 2009 allow for the establishment of casinos on Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu if more than 50 percent of voters in a local referendum agree.
In addition to the ban under the legal system, there is a need to forge a societal consensus on the way forward, Jiang said.
Jiang said that the Cabinet would further deliberate on the possibility and facilitate an exchange of ideas on the issue, so that a consensus can be reached.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) agreed that Gou’s proposal would make the city more competitive in attracting foreign investors and overseas tourists, adding that Linkou (林口), Bali (八里) or Sanjhih (三芝) districts were all potential sites for such a facility.
Gou’s idea was welcomed by Weidner Resorts, the developer that has been planning on building a casino resort on Matsu — the small island chain just 16km off the coast of China’s Fuzhou City.
Gou’s comments will help speed up the government’s plans to boost the casino industry, the company said.
Additional reporting by CNA