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GREATER CHINA 10

TOURISM ARRIVALS Aug. 863,540 China arrivals Aug. 248,538 Jan - Aug 7,143,912 China arrivals Jan - Aug 2,658,236

TAIWAN

Penghu residents hammer nail in casino bill coffin Residents on the island of Penghu have voted against casino development, dashing hopes for long-stalled legislation to open up the industry in Taiwan.

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n an Oct. 15 referendum, about 80 percent of those who voted rejected casino developments on the island, with about 33,000 ballots cast. This was a more resounding “no” than in a prior referendum on Penghu in 2009, when the split was 55-45. Following the “no” vote, the government said it would take other measures to try to boost visitor numbers and the economy of the island chain. Premier Lin Chuan told legislators Penghu has clean and beautiful landscapes that could be transformed into eco-tourism attractions and its islands can be given distinctive “green” energy features alongside further development of low-carbon projects. “The county’s tourism could be upgraded if it featured ‘green’ energy and its beauty and special characteristics can be seen. We believe that Penghu’s natural landscapes and features have the potential to be turned into global attractions,” he said. Simple majority Under the Offshore Islands Development Act, Taiwan’s offshore islands can create tourist areas that include casino zones if the island’s residents approve by a simple majority vote in a county-wide referendum. The proposal was designed to boost tourism and attract more foreign investment. To date only Matsu has approved casinos in a referendum, while Kinmen, a few miles Asia Gaming Briefings | November 2016

from the mainland Chinese coast and famous for its local liquor, has not shown much interest in moving ahead with a vote. The failure of the Penghu vote means it’s highly unlikely Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan (LY) will pass the Tourism Casino Administration Act, the casino gaming regulatory act which has been pending in the LY since 2013. The LY was unwilling to pass the legislation in the wake of the successful casino gaming referendum in Matsu in 2012, when both the Executive Yuan (EY) and the LY were dominated by the Kuomintang (KMT), a party which has historically been favorably disposed to the development of casino gaming in Taiwan’s offshore islands. Onerous terms The Democratic Progressive Party, which is now in power, has opposed legalizing gambling. While the LY was not willing to pass the Act for the sake of Matsu alone, it may have been more inclined to pass the Act if a majority of the eligible offshore islands had voted in favor. However, Bill Bryson, a leading gaming lawyer and Taiwan expert with Global Market Advisors said even if the referendum and subsequent act had been passed there were still hurdles to be overcome. Some of the DPPpromulgated amendments put forward in the framework legislation have been seen as too onerous to attract large overseas investors.

-3.44%

-32.4%

+6.42%

-3.9%

(Source: Tourism Bureau)

Elderly should be allowed a flutter, local politician says Changhua County Commissioner Wei Ming-ku said the central government should legalize gambling for those people who are 65 or older to help combat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, local media reports. Speaking at an event to mark World Alzheimer’s Day, he pointed to the example of a 94-year old woman who kept her mind agile by gambling every morning.

Pigeon racing clampdown nets $3.62 Mln Authorities have cracked down on pigeon clubs, seizing about NT120 million ($3.62 million) in assets and confiscating equipment after animal rights group PETA Asia complained about the mistreatment of birds by illegal gambling rings. PETA claims pigeon racing leads to the death of 1.5 million birds a year. Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji said gambling on pigeon races is illegal.

Among those are amendments which would: a) shorten the license term from 30 years to 15 years; b) impose a minimum NT$60 billion (approximately US$2 billion) capital requirement on licensees; c) impose taxation in the amount of up to 62 percent of gross gaming revenue, on top of a 17 percent tax on net income; and d) impose a limit of two licenses per island. If these proposed amendments are incorporated into the draft Act, it is unlikely that Taiwan’s casino zones will be attractive to many potential foreign investors, Bryson wrote prior to the referendum vote.

AGBriefings November 2016  

AGB brings you extensive coverage across all types of gaming, across 22 Asia jurisdictions.

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