The first casino in Taiwan is to be opened in 2019
It has always been a game of chance to guess when the first casino would open in Taiwan. Voters voted against a casino in 2009 after an investor purchased land for a gambling resort. It has become quiet after an American casino operator who agreed to build a casino in another district, after the voters had given their OK to gamble. And Taiwanese legislation has still not legalized the gambling operation that would allow the construction of casinos anywhere in the country.
However, government officials expect this to happen this year, which could lead to the opening of Taiwan’s first casino in 2019. This would put Taiwan in competition with Singapore, the Philippines, and even Macao, to absorb part of the gambling business in Asia, which is worth about $ 45-50 billion a year. The world’s largest casino operators are already in the starting blocks to open a casino in Taiwan. Taiwan is separated from China by a narrow strait road, the country with the largest number of gamblers in Asia.
The debate between the various parties could end this month, and then Parliament could pass the Casino Management Act. The permit would allow the offshore islands under the care of Taipei to accept offers for casino resort projects. The Matsu archipelago would qualify immediately as the islanders voted for a casino operation back in 2012 to boost infrastructure and create jobs. Matsu would probably only get permission for one or two casinos. Tendering and casino construction would take about five years.
Lin Kuo-shian, director of the Taiwan Ministry of Transport, responsible for gambling regulation, said: “Given the fact that the Casino Management Act could be approved earlier this year, we are optimistic that a casino in Matsu will open in 2019 Matsu Tourism Manager Liu Te-Chuan has the same timeframe in mind. A number of casino operators have already voiced their interest. However, land acquisition and infrastructure development could take several years, Liu Te-chuan added.
One of the applicants, Weidner Resorts, has become quiet after the company promised to build a bridge and an airport as part of the 2012 campaign. The company is run by former president of the Sands Coorperation, William Weidner. He had not said much about his great plans for a 100-room resort in Matsu ever since a Filipino casino terminated its contract with its Global Gaming Asset Management Group in September. Other big names are in the conversation, but at present, rather still behind closed doors. “Weidner is very interested, but there are other companies waiting for the approval of the Casino Management Act,” Liu said. “We do not know how many more vendors will be interested.”
On other islands such as the Penghu Archipelago (also called Pescadores), the pro-casino groups are preparing for another vote after their surprise defeat in 2009. If the bill is approved, there might be a casino on the archipelago relatively soon. Based in the Isle of Man, Claremont Partners Ltd. already owns 27 hectares of land there and would only need to renew permits to build an integrated casino resort, said the company’s Asia representative, Carl Burger. A subsidiary of the same operator also intends to open a casino resort in the Catskill Mountains, New York State.
Burger says, “Penghu is the only island where only Claremont has shown interest so far. We continue to believe that Penghu is a viable place to live. We expect the Taiwanese government to pass the legislation in 2014, opening the door to gambling operators and investors in this new region in Asia.