Residents of Taiwan’s Penghu County voted against having casinos on the islands to attract tourists, dampening sentiment around legislation proposed to attract overseas investments to the area. It’s the second time since 2009 the outlying islands have rejected the construction of gambling developments.
In a ballot asking whether to allow “recreational complexes” featuring casinos, 26,598 people voted “no,” compared with 6,210 who voted “yes,” the Penghu government said in an e-mail on Saturday.
President Tsai Ing-wen said last week her Democratic Progressive Party, which also controls the legislature, remains opposed to gambling developments and Penghu should look to develop tourism in other ways, government-backed Central News Agency reported Oct. 13. Meanwhile lawmakers have yet to pass new implementing regulations, even after residents of Matsu voted in favor of gambling establishments in 2012. A Taiwan gambling ban on the outlying islands was repealed in 2009.
Taiwan’s gross domestic product is forecast to grow 1 percent this year, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That would be the slowest pace among the economies once known as the “Asian Tigers,” including Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. Tourism from China, Taiwan’s largest trade partner and historical political foe, has dropped since May, when Tsai took office. The Taiwan leader doesn’t accept Beijing’s one-China principle, which it considers to be a condition for normal relations.
“People of Penghu have shown their collective will,” the ruling DPP said in an e-mailed statement Saturday. “The government will work to help Penghu develop tourism with its own characteristics.”
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who leads Las Vegas Sands Corp, and Francis Lui, deputy chairman of Hong Kong’s Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd., had previously expressed interest in Taiwan if gaming were allowed.
Construction of Taiwan Casinos rejected in referendum vote