A referendum will be on the ballot this October asking Penghu voters whether or not casinos should be allowed in the country. On Monday, several individuals held a demonstration outside the Legislative Yuan in the hopes of convincing voters to choose ‘NO” when voting on the 15th of the month. Among the protestors were representatives from civic groups, residents, religious leaders, lawmakers and more.
Demonstrators argued that the benefits that are said to be provided by such gaming by pro-gambling groups have been inflated. Developers claim that bringing in casinos would create as much as NT$4 billion each year in revenue. As much as NT$80,000 each year is said to be provided to seniors based on cash handouts as well as NT$30,000 in subsidies each year going towards students. Parents with children ages 1 to 6 would receive NT$50,000 (about US$1,600) each year.
During the demonstration, chants of ‘No to casinos, save Taiwan: no to casinos, save Penghu’ were repeated. A skit was also performed that showed proponents of the casinos trying to confuse residents by using words that covered up what opponents felt are the realities of casino gaming coming to the region.
Shih Chao-hui, a representative of the religious sector, stated that he believes the casinos will harm morality in the region. Chao-hui felt that the families of the island would ruin their savings by taking part in such gaming.
Another individual present during the demonstration, Cheng Tung-liao, who is a resident of Penghu and professor at the National Chengchi University, stated that casinos would lead the region to overdevelopment. The professor mentioned the high school student dropout rates in Macau and warned that once the region has gambling that is entrenched in the local economy, there is no going back.
Those who are against the casino referendum would also like to see lawmakers amend the Offshore Island Development Act, removing the ability to permit the establishment of casinos if locals consent.