Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng on Tuesday called for a vote on the opening of casinos on the nation’s outlying islands during the current legislative session.
Wang’s comments came after a meeting with Penghu County Commissioner Wang Chien-fa, Penghu County Council Speaker Chen Chao-ling, Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Ping-kun and local township chiefs, who asked for Wang’s support in having a draft gambling bill passed as quickly as possible.
The Penghu delegation also paid a visit to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus later in the day.
Wang said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus should no longer use objections from the DPP as an excuse to prevent the bill’s passage now that KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou has publicly expressed support for the establishment of a gambling industry in Penghu County.
The issue had been deferred for too long and now was the time to swiftly deal with it through a vote, since some DPP and Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmakers had said they might agree to vote in favor of the bill, he said.
Wang also criticized the DPP administration’s intention of allowing the opening of casinos in three central and southern counties on Taiwan proper, calling it an indication of the party’s deep lack of knowledge about the gambling industry.
He urged the DPP administration not to put off the bill any longer under the pretext of a lack of complementary measures.
Pointing to Las Vegas and Singapore as examples, Wang said it was „obvious“ that the gambling industry had to be clustered in a specific area.
He questioned whether visitors would be willing to travel to outlying islands to gamble if the same entertainment were available on Taiwan proper, and said it would strip the outlying islands of economic opportunities.
Admitting that some caucus members had objected to allowing the opening of casinos on outlying islands, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming said the party would gauge how to respond to the issue once the Procedure Committee has put the bill on the legislative agenda.
„It is too early to discuss the issue, because the caucus will have to exchange views with relevant agencies to find common ground,“ he said.
Later that same day, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said that it was unaware of how the Legislative Yuan would deal with the gambling bill, but that it would fully respect its authority.
The CEPD said the government would not promote the gambling industry until all complementary measures have been put in place.
CEPD Chairwoman Ho Mei-yueh had said at a legislative meeting on Monday that it was necessary for the government to wait for a public consensus before it began to promote the industry.
It is extremely important to establish relevant laws and implement controls before casinos are allowed to be set up, she said.
Ho said that other countries authorized casinos to open only after legislation has been implemented and a supervisory agency has been instituted to regulate the industry.