The wait will soon be over for Taiwan’s next attraction—a casino.
On October 15, residents in the country’s outlying island of Penghu will have to decide on whether they will allow casinos in their hometown, Taiwanese media reported. Results of the referendum will be announced before October 22, according to Chinese-language Taiwanese news outlets.
This will be the second time that Penghu residents is asked to vote on the casino issue. The country held its first referendum on gaming in September 2009, after the government lifted the prohibition on gambling on the islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu. However, a total of 17,369 votes or about 56.44 percent of the total valid ballots were cast against a plan to build a casino on Penghu Island.
The country’s Referendum Act forbids groups to raise the same proposal within three years after it was thrown out.
In 2014, the parliament discussed a bill that would potentially allow casinos on the country’s outlying islands. That bill, which was expected to come through in the first half of 2015, is currently in a state of limbo, particularly after the country voted a new president in January.
Tsai Ing-wen has been vocal about her anti-gaming stance during the election cycle, and in 2009, was also responsible for employing the Democratic Progressive Party’s strengths in grassroots organizing to defeat the Penghu casino proposal.
Even if there is a referendum, the final decision to authorize the regulation of casino resorts on the islands will still remain with Taiwan’s central government.
Meanwhile, disputes with the pro-casino groups and the antis are starting to escalate as the day of voting comes closer. Trees Party chair Sheng Yi-che, a vocal opponent of the plan to allow casinos, claimedthat his car has been vandalized allegedly by casino supporters, telling Taipei Times that “the referendum is tainted by this threat. It shows contempt for people’s right to engage in public discourse.”