Gambling proponents in Taiwan have secured a date for a new referendum, which would pave the way for casinos to be built—finally—in the country.
On Monday, Taiwanese news agency Focus Taiwan reported that Kinmen County’s Election Commission announced that a referendum would be held on October 28 to allow the residents of the island to decide whether they want to have a casino developed in their hometown.
Kinmen County Council Tsai Chun-sheng, who initiated the referendum, was able to collect 5,602 valid signatures to back up his initiative. The number of signatures that Tsai collected surpassed the 5,178, or roughly 5 percent of the total number of eligible voters, threshold set by the commission.
If all goes according to plan, this could be the third time a Taiwanese outlying island will hold a referendum on gambling after the government lifted the 15-year prohibition on gambling on the islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu in September 2009.
The two previous referendums were held in Penghu, but residents voted—twice—against the idea of allowing casino resorts in the country. In the October 2016 referendum, 81 percent or 26,598 residents voted against the casino plan, while 6,210 votes were in favor of the drive to bring casinos to Taiwan.
Kinmen has about 140,000 residents registered, but the actual population living in the island is only 60,000. If the referendum is held, phantom voters will play the key in the poll, according to early reports.
The future of casino gaming in Taiwan remains bleak, because as Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen pointed out, “There’s really no appetite among the Legislature to be helpful.”
“Even if they do the right language and it happens and they build a casino, it’s entirely dependent on the good graces of Beijing and whether or not they will let people go there, and that’s a huge risk,” Govertsen told CalvinAyre.com.