In Taiwan, residents of the outlying island province of Kinmen are reportedly set to be given the chance in late-October to vote on whether to legalize casinos after gambling proponents managed to collect enough signatures to trigger a referendum on the issue.
According to a report from the Focus Taiwan news portal, a member of the Kinmen County Council, Tsai Chun-Sheng, led a campaign that successfully collected 5,602 signatures in favor of holding the referendum, which surpassed the required 5% of all eligible voters threshold, with the official vote now expected to take place on October 28.
The news portal reported that the Kinmen Election Commission anticipates officially declaring the date for the referendum on Friday while predicting the budget for the vote at approximately $296,215.
Focus Taiwan explained that gambling is not allowed on mainland Taiwan but legislators ratified an amendment to the Offshore Islands Development Act in January of 2009 that permits the nation’s offshore islands to establish casinos if residents agree via a referendum.
GGRAsia reported that the fellow Taiwanese archipelago province of Penghu held similar referendums on whether to legalize casinos in 2009 and 2016 with both ballots resulting in a majority of voters coming out in opposition to legalized gambling including by an overwhelming 81% last time out. By contrast, residents of the nearby Matsu chain approved casinos via a referendum in July of 2012 but the process soon stalled after federal legislators were unable to agree on relevant regulations.
The Kinmen Anti-Casinos Alliance reportedly told the state-owned Central News Agency that it intends to initiate legal action in order to stop the Kinmen referendum from taking place while it criticized the wording of the question on the ballot petition to The China Times newspaper as “strongly persuading” and “unclear in terms of the definitions.” The group moreover accused the Kinmen Election Committee of “malfeasance” and being partisan while Taiwan’s new president, Tasi Ing-Wen from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, has long been known as a vocal opponent to legalized casinos.