The ninety islets and almost a million citizens of the Penghu Islands often represent a escape from Taiwan proper for many citizens. For the past couple decades the people of Penghu have been lobbying the government to allow the legalization of gambling on the islands. In that spirit they have finally gotten plans approved to build a five star resort.
Although the tourist industry is strong in the season from April to September, once the weather turns foul there is little to no income as people find no reason to visit. This leaves the islands in need of something to attract and entertain tourists indoors despite the weather outside.
The Asian gaming market is booming, which gives Penghu a good reason to want gambling to be the great hope for the off season. The US reported revenues could easily surpass the US by 2012. The booming resort town of Macau, as well as casinos in Singapore are fueling this growth. The US reported over thirty-four billion dollars in revenue in 2007, while the Asian gaming market brought in fifteen to twenty billion dollars in the same time frame.
Such numbers have re-opened the debate as to whether Taiwan should life the gambling bans. With neighboring countries such as Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore rescinding or getting ready to rescind their gambling bands there is much pressure for Taiwan to do the same before they get left behind. However they have already turned down just that notion twice, once in 2002 and again just last year although by a lesser margin.
Since then the government leaders have somewhat softened their stance and the third time may be the charm. Many Taiwanese consider gambling immoral, but in the light of the great monetary success it has brought other Asian countries it may be too tempting to pass up.
Penghu has felt increasingly isolated due to several changes in commerce in Taiwan. Waiting to allow gambling may have cost Penghu the interest of Las Vegas Sands, who won the bid to make the first casino in Singapore, who has been expressing interest since 2000 in the outlaying islands of Taiwan. The group expressed interest in Penghu even before Macau or Singapore and its estimated twenty thousand jobs could have already been made had they been able to develop on the islands.
After much effort, including a government referendum on the issue the Taiwan Tourism Bureau – Ministry of Transportation and Communications has finally approved the Enterprise Plan to create a resort complex on a twenty-seven acre beach fronted site. The company approved to do this is AMZ Holdings Plc, who has been and continues to closely watch the gaming discussions in hopes that it can add plans for a casino to its resort.
The legislation is currently between sessions but with pressure t put the third vote on the legalization of gambling through it is anticipated to be on top of the list when they get back to business in September. Should it not go through the third time its bound to continue to be put on the legislation’s list as Asian gaming is increasingly a big industry and cannot just be passed up completely as a source of revenue.