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Island off Taiwan to vote on controversial casino plan

Gambling does not constitute genuine economic development, says senior church leader

Island off Taiwan to vote on controversial casino plan

Members of the Taiwan Anti-legalization of Gambling Coalition pose for a photo at a press conference held on Oct. 19. Front row second left is Father Willy Ollevier. (Photo Source: Taiwan Anti-legalization of Gambling Coalition Facebook page)

October 27, 2017

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Religious and civil society groups shouted slogans at a press conference opposing a planned casino in Kinmen County, a Taiwanese offshore island near southeastern China.

‘No casino in Kinmen,’ they chanted at the media event on Oct. 19 attended by Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist representatives as well as various non-government organizations.

They urged residents presently not living on the island, but who still have voting rights, to return and vote against the casino proposal at a referendum on Oct. 28.

While Kinmen has an official population of some 140,000, the current number of actual residents is only about 60,000.

Advocates of a casino say it would stimulate tourism.

Three referendums on casino gambling have so far been held on offshore Taiwanese islands.

Penghu islanders twice rejected casino development, in 2009 and 2016, while a majority of Matsu islanders voted ‘yes’ in 2012.

Senior Catholic Church official Father Willy Ollevier stressed that gambling does not constitute genuine economic development.

Rather, it takes money from people’s pockets and foments hatred, he said.

Shih Chao-hwei, a Buddhist master, said experience with casinos in Singapore, Macau and Malaysia showed that locals often suffered most from addiction to gambling. 

 

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