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Taiwan – New Taiwanese government dampens hope of casino development

By - 18 January 2016

A new government in Taiwan could derail any hopes of a casino industry being developed there for at least the next five years, according to analyst group Union Gaming.

It sees the election of Tsai Ing-Wen from the nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as being a negative a negative for casino hopes in the island nation.

Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen said: “Following the elections, stern rhetoric has already come out of Beijing, including from the official press agency, Xinhua, which stated ‘the DPP’s return rule poses grave challenges to cross-Strait relations. Separately, President Tsai has personally gone on record as being anti-gaming during the recent election cycle, and she had instructed DPP legislators in 2009 to vote against the bill to allow gaming referendums.”

Despite Taiwan abolishing a 15-year ban on gambling on its outlying island of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu in 2009, no casinos have yet been developed. A referendum was planned for Matsu residents in the summer.

Mr Govertsen added: “If a referendum is ultimately held it would likely occur this spring. Heading into 2016 – and before the election of the DPP, there was chatter that the government would finally move forward with a gaming bill to allow Matsu (which already voted in favour of casinos), or any other outlying islands that pass a local referendum, to conduct an RFP process. With the DPP now controlling the levers of government in Taiwan, we would expect this already hard-line approach to mainlanders potentially gambling in Taiwan to harden further still.”

“There is clearly an appetite for gambling in Taiwan and there would be significant interest in large-scale development if integrated resorts were approved for cities like Taipei or Kaohsiung,” he added. “Even in a best case scenario where the new legislature finally creates integrated resort legislation, we think the first integrated resort is at least five years away.”

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