Residents on an offshore island in Taiwan have voted to introduce casino style gambling, paving the way for a casino tender process to be launched for the offshore islands of Matsu.
A weekend referendum saw a total of 1,795 people vote ‘yes’ with 1,341 voting against it. The Matsu government said the turnout rate was 40 per cent from its population of 10,000. In 2009, residents in Penghu voted against bringing casino gambling to its island although in complete contrast to Matsu, Penghu has a buoyant tourism industry, which has provided cash to invest in infrastructure.
Operating giants such as Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts are believed to have analysed the opportunity of gaming in Taiwan due to closeness to China and large potential markets such as Korea and Japan.
Matsu has suffered the effects of military withdrawal from the Taiwan Strait much more acutely than Penghu
Yang Sui-sheng, Head of Lienchiang County, which Matsu belongs to, said that nobody knew when the government would start issuing licences although he hoped it would be within a five-year timescale.
The proposed Gambling Act has seen two amendments and is still being pieced together by Taiwan’s government. If it could be passed within the next year, it should only take another year for the government to oversee a tender process, leaving three years for the property to be built.
Analysts believe a casino in Matsu would have little impact on Macau which is located on China’s southern coast. Las Vegas-based Union Gaming said: “Five per cent of overall visitation to Macau is from Taiwan, and Matsu is less conveniently located from Taipei than Macau.”
Weidner Resorts Taiwan, headed by former Las Vegas Sands executive Bill Weidner, has already shown its blueprint for a Taiwanese casino resort with luxury hotels and convention halls.