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Taiwan to Allow Casinos on its Outer Islands

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Jan/12/2009

Asia has a new casino Mecca.  Taiwan this weekend paved the way for casino gambling after repealing a gambling ban over 15 years ago.

The bill allowing Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu to legalize casinos passed its final reading in Taiwan's legislature today, Justin Chou, a lawmaker, said in a phone interview with Bloomberg News on Monday.

Taiwan is yet to determine how many licensees it will reward.

Taiwan joins Singapore in allowing casinos to boost tourism and lure gamblers from Macau as a global recession cuts into the island's earnings from exports and slows domestic consumption.  The news helped bolster confidence among analysts in regard to the Las Vegas Sands Corp., declaring the stock a "strong buy" on Monday.  The news also resulted in shares of Isle of Man-based AMZ, which plans to build a casino resort on Penghu, climbing 46 percent to 91 pence as of 11:08 a.m. on London's Alternative Investment Market.

"The first draft of this bill was made in 1994, and it took so long because there's so much debate and so many competing voices," Chou, a member of the ruling Kuomintang said. "Because Taiwan's economy is now falling, the belief is that probably these resort projects can help spur the economy."

Bloomberg estimates that Taiwan's economy probably slid into recession in the fourth quarter as exports declined and unemployment rose.  The government plans to spend NT$480 billion ($14.43 billion) over four years to help spur growth.

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Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com 

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