Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Penghu Residents, Experts Question Value of Gambling29 July 2002
TAIWAN – As reported by the Tapai Times: ``There were only a few tourists from the main island of Taiwan perusing souvenirs on Saturday on Chungcheng Road, the busiest street in Penghu's capital of Makung.
``Following the crash of a China Airlines plane near Penghu on May 25, the island county's tourist industry is going through its quietest summer in years.
``…The recent bad luck for the islands has once again caused many to look to legalizing gambling as a way to attract tourists.
``Many tourism experts and local residents, however, said that legalizing gambling is an irresponsible way to promote Penghu's tourism.
``…Supporters of legalizing gambling said it would attract investment to the islands and create job opportunities for local residents.
``Critics argue that gambling would not only damage the islands' security and environment, but also increase the cost of living.
``…Several Penghu-based private groups held a non-binding referendum early last month, in which more than 80 percent of Penghu voters said they supported legalizing casino-style gambling in the archipelago.
``…Gambling in Penghu would bring more than NT$20 billion in tax revenues for the local government, supporters say. Other benefits would apparently be free medical treatment and transportation, NT$10,000 a month for elderly residents and free education for children, although details of these benefits have not been explained.
``…The Ministry of the Interior (MOI), meanwhile, has completed an assessment of the effects of legalizing gambling in Penghu, in which most government departments opposed the idea, especially the Ministry of Justice and the MOI's Police Administration, according to an official familiar with the evaluation who was speaking on condition of anonymity.
``However, Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien has blocked the public release of the assessment's results, the official said. The official did not say why the assessment's results would not be made public.
``Of several counties that have expressed an interest in legalizing gambling since it was first discussed in 1988, Penghu has been the most likely place to actually make it happen.
``…But some residents are suspicious of what effects it will have on the area.
``A 53-year-old woman who owns two souvenir shops on Chungcheng Road, but refused to give her name, said she would close her stores if Penghu legalized gambling…"