Up to 2 casinos in Taiwan? - Tuesday 24th of March 2009

TAIWAN has taken another step forward in a move to lift a decades-old ban on casinos after it was decided no more than two casino resorts would be licensed at the beginning, it was reported Sunday.

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT), who control the legislature, pushed through a controversial bill in Parliament in January to lift the ban on casinos despite fears it could lead to more crime and damage morality.

The bill allows offshore islands to build casinos only if they are approved by residents in referendums.

Developers who win a licence would be required to build a hotel with a minimum of 1,000 rooms according to the result arrived at Saturday during a meeting of government agencies, the Chinese-language China Times reported.

The agencies also decided that the government would not issue the third licence within 10 years of licensing the second one to avoid competition and reduce possible social impacts, the report said.

Officials say it may take a year for government agencies to amend the existing law and complete investment requirements and screening procedures.

British developer AMZ Holdings Plc and Taiwans Penghu Bay Development Co, have been preparing land for casino projects in Penghu, the archipelago located in the middle of the Taiwan Strait, the Penghu county government said earlier.

Penghu hopes to attract half a million tourist visits each year, generating NT$100 billion worth of revenue in gambling and tourism, and creating up to 50,000 jobs.

Local media has speculated that the worlds casino giants would pour money into Penghu having suffered a hammering elsewhere in the global financial crisis.

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