Efforts to bring casino gaming to Taiwan‘s outlying island county of Penghu received a boost this week after proponents announced that they had collected more than 5,000 signatures calling for a referendum to be held on the issue.

Gambling is not permitted on the mainland but the Taiwanese legislature passed an amendment to the Offshore Islands Development Act in January of 2009, that would allow the far-flung archipelago to establish tourist-only casinos should residents say yes through a referendum.

Although a first plebiscite that same year failed to gain enough support, Chen Meng, chairman for the Alliance Promoting Internationalization Of Penghu, revealed that his group has so far collected more than the 4,114 signatures, which equates to 5% of eligible voters, required for a second such referendum.

Meng stated that his group would be sending all of the collected signatures for review by the county’s electoral commission once the number reaches 6,000 while revealing that no referendum would be held until the final language is agreed and at least 100 public briefings had been held.

“At the earliest, the second referendum on gaming will take place before the end of the year,” said Meng.

According to a report in the Taipei Times, the first such referendum was held on September 26, 2009, and saw 56.44%, or 17,369 voters, object to the prospect of a casino on any of the 64 islands that make up the chain.

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