The central government should legalize gambling for people 65 or older to help combat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, Changhua County Commissioner Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷) said.
Wei made the remarks on Wednesday at an event held by the Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association to mark World Alzheimer’s Day.
Wei, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party, cited the example of a 94-year-old woman from Changhua County’s Yongjing Township (永靖) who gambled every morning, saying that despite her age, she was still lively.
Changhua County Christian Hospital department of psychiatry director Wang Wen-fu (王文甫) said that playing Chinese chess, mahjong or cards gives elderly people a sense of achievement through gaming, which in turn helps rejuvenate brain function and can help delay the onset of dementia.
In response to Wei’s comments, Minister Without Portfolio Hua Ching-chun (花敬群) said that legalizing gambling would not be widely accepted in Taiwan.
Such a move would require widespread public consensus and would need to be dealt with carefully, Hua said, adding that in controlled instances, legalized gambling might be open for discussion.
Hua pointed to a clause in the Off-Shore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) that allows for the construction of casino resorts on outlying islands if a majority of residents approve it in a simplified referendum.
In 2012, the Lienchiang County Government held a referendum on the issue, with 57 percent of voters supporting the construction of a casino on the islands.
World Alzheimer’s Day is part of World Alzheimer’s Month — September every year — which aims to raise awareness and a global movement united by its call for change.
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