Father Pierre Wavreille (top row, fourth from left) and supporters of the anti-gambling movement.
Residents in the Matsu Islands have voted in favor of building Taiwan’s first casino resort following a referendum on Saturday.
Gambling is illegal on the main island but the government had said a casino could be built on outlying islands only if over 50 percent of island residents were in favor.
Almost 57 percent of those who cast their ballots voted “yes” for the casino, according to the county government.
Many of the residents believe casinos will lead to improved transportation links with the main island and increase tourism.
Opponents cried foul following the result, accusing authorities of not adopting a neutral stance regarding the vote.
“The Lien Chiang County Magistrate and other officials were not impartial, but instead held repeated public meetings supporting the move,” said Father Pierre Wavreille, the only pastor on Matsu.
Despite the referendum setback, the priest vowed the Church and opposition will continue its fight against the casino.
“There are still many barriers ahead that could prevent this casino being built, he said.”
Weidner Resorts Taiwan, a resort developer which plans to invest in Matsu, expects huge interest from companies looking to tap into the growing Asian gambling market.
Taiwan first held a referendum on gambling in the Penghu Islands in 2009 which was rejected. Another proposal submitted in the Kinmen Islands that same year was withdrawn in 2010.
Matsu Islands to vote on casino resort