Home » Legalized gambling in the cards

Legalized gambling in the cards

A proposal to introduce casinos to Taiwan’s outer islands has been tabled many times over the years — but without studies of the possible impact of crime resulting from the move.

In a recent development, however, Lin Chia-cheng, chairman of the Executive Yuan’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, said on Dec. 27 that in light of the “small three links” policy the government might consider allowing casinos on Kinmen and Matsu.

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung said the initiative was premature and opponents of gambling and Penghu politicians were dismayed.

Penghu is the most likely candidate among several counties for legalizing gambling due to pressure from local politicians in the area.

The introduction of casinos in special areas was first publicly discussed in 1988. Advocates said casinos could boost tourism and stimulate the economy of remote areas, creating more tax revenue.

Objections have focused on issues of public order and morality.

While formulating the Offshore Islands Development Act in 1998, the Cabinet decided not to include articles concerning legalized gambling.

The Act passed the legislature last March.

But the proposal of allowing casinos on offshore islands has not faded.

The Council for Economic Planning and Development gave an assessment on the potential advantages and disadvantages of the policy to the Executive Yuan last December.

“It’s up to the Executive Yuan to decide on the policy. However, the point is that a consensus [over the issue] has not yet been reached,” a council official said.

On public order, the report says, “According to the examples of other countries, gambling businesses often use lawful activities to cover up illegal deals such as drug trafficking, illegal immigrant smuggling, prostitution and money laundering.

The intervention of gangsters has often caused a deterioration in public safety and caused an increase in the crime rate.”

It also says that in Colorado, New Jersey and Nevada, crime rates have soared due to the establishment of casinos. In Korea and Malaysia, the report says, this did not happen because of effective police control.

Council officials acknowledged that the report was a secondhand analysis primarily based on another report titled “A Research on the Establishment of Tourist Casinos in Taiwan,” that was conducted by the Tourism Bureau, under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, in 1996.