Gambling in Taiwan? Casinos in Matsu.

Posted on July 9th, 2012

Well, first we had Macau (which is now the world’s biggest casino town having overtaken Las Vegas). The we had Singapore (of Marina Bay Sands fame) which has been a huge success. And we have had plans for casinos in other Asian countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

Now, it seems like it’s Taiwan’s time to get in on the act.

A referendum in a small island group called Matsu in the Taiwanese Straight between Taiwan and China on Saturday has cleared the way for Taiwan’s first gambling complex. This has the big gaming groups salivating at the prospect of expanding in Asia’s fast growing casino industry.

Matsu are a small archipelago of 19 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait administered as Lienchiang County under the Fujian Province of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Interestingly, their cousins over The Strait, The People’s Republic of China (“Red China”) controls the part of the county that is on mainland China.

57 per cent of Matsu’s voters said “yes”  or should we say “shi” (是) to government plans to build a casino (赌场).

Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands is wading in of course as is MGM Resorts- both are keen on setting up a resort in Taiwan given how close it is to China, Korea and Japan. There’s money in The Straits!

Gambling is illegal in Taiwan but a new law came into effect in 2009 allowing casino resorts on offshore islands.

There are around 8000 residents on Matsu, named after a Chinese sea goddess: It is only a 30-minute ferry ride from China’s Fujian province.

Previously in 2009, residents of the Penghu Islands, off the western coast of Taiwan, rejected plans to build a casino there.

A casino in Matsu would have a low impact on gambling revenues in Macau which is some way south, experts say.

Weidner Resorts Taiwan, which is a company run by former Las Vegas Sands executive Bill Weidner, has reveled plans to build a casino resort with the usual assortment of 5 star hotels, sports venues and convention halls.

Another rung on the booming Asian gambling market ladder.

Here’s what it looks like now (great blag by the way). Let’s hope they develop this island carefully- the beaches look fantastic: Matsu Blog.

Classic- the author accidentally drove off on someone else’s scooter instead of his rental (everyone leaves their keys in the ignition in Matsu apparently).


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