Taiwan Presidential Office denies setting up gambling taskforce

Taipei (Taiwan News) – The Presidential Office denied media reports Monday it was setting up a taskforce to study the legalization of casino gambling.

The Presidential Office completely respected the right of the cabinet’s Council for Economic Planning and Development to take initiatives on the subject of gambling, presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi said.

Building casinos has long been seen as a way to stimulate the economies of outlying islands like Penghu and Kinmen, but politicians’ promises to legalize gambling have met with fierce opposition from social and religious groups which say casinos will create more problems than they solve.

Opponents say casinos will attract organized crime, give a boost to prostitution and provoke a rise in petty crime while failing to benefit the local population.

The supporters of legalized gambling say the casinos will create extra jobs and stop inhabitants of the smaller islands from moving to Taiwan’s main island, though they also reportedly fear that a nationwide legalization would cut their advantage.

Legal amendments and respect for the opinions of the local population were the key elements in any changes of laws on gambling, presidential spokesman Wang said.