Taiwan considers opening gambling business

The government will release an assessment report by December on whether to develop the gambling industry in Taiwan, and if it is assessed as feasible, priority will most likely be given to the outlying islands to open this type of business, the country’s top economic planner said yesterday.

Chen Tain-jy, chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, said that the outlying island county of Penghu, with a view to boosting its economy, has long demanded the legalization of the gambling industry and has been seeking permission to develop gambling as a business there.

Moreover, the northern counties of Miaoli and Taipei are also actively seeking permission to operate gambling establishments there, Chen added.

The calls by local governments for the legalization of the gambling industry have intensified since May 20 when President Ma Ying-jeou took office, as this was one of his election promises.

Chen said the report will include the possible impact of the gambling industry on the society and whether it is good time to open casinos in Taiwan. It will also cover regulations governing the gambling industry, such as licensing issues, casino operation management and methods of income allocation.

He added that if the assessment concludes that the plan is viable, and after all the relevant regulations have been formulated, all local governments would be allowed to file applications to start such businesses. However, priority would be given to the country’s offshore islands, given that a recent CEPD survey showed that most respondents favored opening up the offshore islands to the development of the gambling business, Chen said.

Chen made the remarks after he concluded a fact-finding tour of casino operations in Melbourne, Australia last week where he attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting.

Chen said Australia’s gambling business is a very complicated business, requiring a comprehensive management system, he said.