There will be no tax imposed on casino winnings for the first 20 years following the establishment of casinos in Taiwan, Minister Without Portfolio Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) said yesterday.
Yang, in charge of drafting a bill stipulating regulations for the operation of casinos, said that the bill was expected to be approved by the Cabinet by the end of this month and referred to the legislature for deliberation.
The government is required to draft the legislation by the tenets contained in the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例). Independent Legislator Chen Hsueh-sheng (陳雪生) has been applying pressure on the issue since the passage of a referendum to allow a casino to be built in Matsu, his constituency, in July last year.
At an inter-governmental agency meeting held yesterday, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) finally gave its consent to the tax exemption after the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) insisted it was necessary.
The MOF initially proposed that customers pay 20 percent tax on any money they win at a casino, but the MOTC strongly opposed the idea.
Yang said that the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei arranged a meeting with the MOF in which it said it strongly sided with the MOTC on the matter because the tax would act as a disincentive for investment in casino resorts.
“The draft bill will only allow casinos to be built on outlying islands because there is a lack of consensus on them being established on Taiwan proper,” Yang said.
A Cabinet official, who asked to remain anonymous, said that an idea is being floated among officials to allow casinos to be built within the planned “Free Economic Pilot Zones,” a project to test incremental economic and trade liberalization.
Gambling on Taiwan proper is prohibited by the Criminal Code, but the Offshore Islands Development Act exempt the outlying islands from this ban.