【英语中国】台湾:亚洲下一个赌博天堂?

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2012-8-3 22:55

小艾摘要: Residents of the outlying Taiwanese island of Matsu have officially opened their arms to the idea of hosting Taiwan's first legal casino and earning a robust living in catering to gamblers from mainla ...
Residents of the outlying Taiwanese island of Matsu have officially opened their arms to the idea of hosting Taiwan's first legal casino and earning a robust living in catering to gamblers from mainland China 岸 after voting in favor of an 'integrated resort' that promises to transform the island. But is the deal too good to be true?

In a referendum on over the weekend, 56% of Matsu's 3,162 eligible voters cast their ballots in favor of allowing a casino on the island, opening the door to a $2-billion proposal that includes upgrades of the island's ports and airports, an abundance of job opportunities 岸 and monthly stipends of up to NT$80,000 ($2,670) for all people registered as Matsu residents at the time of the referendum.
The developer, Weidner Resorts, has vowed to turn the underdeveloped and tightly military-controlled archipelago into the 'Mediterranean of Asia,' complete with five-star hotels, restaurants staffed by celebrity chefs, entertainment venues, high-end shopping centers and, of course, casinos.

Weidner has also said it plans to build a university on the island and establish a welfare fund for locals.
Voting in favor of the casino might have been an act of sheer desperation on the part of Matsu residents who feel neglected by the central government, said Anita Chen, a lobbyist for the gaming site. '[Matsu residents] see it as a tool to get the infrastructure facilities they needed but couldn't get [from the government]. Deep down, people in Matsu have doubts as to whether this will actually happen,' Ms. Chen said, noting many of her contacts in Matsu supported the initiative because they felt they had nothing to lose.

Ho Jung-shin, a professor of journalism at National Taiwan University, said in an editorial published in the China Times that the estimated yearly tax revenues of NT$15.5 billion after five years is tempting and alluring, but he cautioned that those projections are based on the risky assumption that China would allowe its gamblers to come to Matsu uninterrupted for years to come.

Cross-strait ties have improved significantly since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, a proponent of increased engagement with Beijing, was elected in 2008. As a good-will gesture, China in the same year lifted a ban on tourists coming to Taiwan. Roughly 1.8 million Chinese citizens visited Taiwan in 2011, making them the largest group of foreign tourists to island, according to Tourism Bureau statistics.

However, Taiwan's growing economic dependency on China is also worrisome to many because Beijing could turn off the tourist tap at will 岸 as it did for a few months after September 2009, when the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung hosted the Dalai Lama over Beijing's objections.

Others have wondered whether Matsu would be able to compete against Macau, a gambling haven that already has a steady stream of clients from China, and expressed worries about crime and other social problems typically associated with gambling.

Such concerns still matter because, in order for a casino to be built on Matsu, Taiwan first has to pass the Gambling Act, a bill currently in draft form that would legalize gambling under certain circumstances.

William Bryson, an attorney at Jones Day who has been working on the draft legislation for the past two decades, argues that stringent licensing process put in place by the Nevada Gaming Commission have made the global gaming industry highly self-regulated. As long as the gambling legislation adopts the strictest provisions, he says, it won't be hard for Taiwan 'to keep the bad guys out and the good guys in.'

Calling the passage of the referendum on Matsu 'a paradigm shift,' Mr. Bryson predicted the vote would 'highly accelerate' the legislative process and even rekindle casino operators' interests in other Taiwanese islets that faded after a similar referendum flopped in Penghu in 2009.

The supporters of the Gambling Act are hoping the draft will be put in front of the legislature by the end of the year. But despite saying it respects the will of the Matsu people, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party has nevertheless promised to oppose the bill, which means legalized gambling in Taiwan could remain a distant possibility for some time.

Associated Press马祖:亚洲的下一个赌博天堂?
在远离台湾本岛的马祖,当地居民投票赞成开设一家有望改变马祖面貌的“综合度假村”,此举意味着他们对在马祖开设台湾第一家合法赌场的想法予以了正式支持,也意味着他们赞成通过招揽中国大陆赌客让自己过上好日子。但是如此好事能否成真呢?

在7月初举行的公投中,马祖3,162名合格选民中的56%投票赞成允许在岛上开设赌场,从而向一项20亿美元的议案敞开了大门,该议案建议升级马祖的港口和机场,这将创造大量就业机会──并可每月向公投时马祖的所有在册居民发放高达80,000元新台币(约合2,670美元)的津贴。

Weidner Resorts Taiwan怀德度假村台湾网站的电脑截屏,网站显示怀德度假村计划把马祖建成一处综合度假村。开发商怀德度假村(Weidner Resorts)承诺将把这个经济落后、在严格军事控制下的群岛变为“亚洲的地中海”,并称完工时将建成五星级酒店、名厨掌勺的餐馆、娱乐场所、高端购物中心等等,当然也包括赌场。

怀德度假村还称,该公司计划在岛上建立一所大学,并为当地人建立一个福利基金。

这家赌场的说客Anita Chen称,居民们投票赞成设立赌场可能是他们感到被台湾政府忽视而深感绝望之下的行动。Chen说,“[马祖居民]将其视为获得他们需要但无法[从政府]获得的基础设施的工具。从内心深处,马祖人民对于是否真能建成这些基础设施感到怀疑。”她指出,她在马祖的许多熟人都支持这项议案,因为他们认为自己反正没有什么可失去的。

国立台湾大学(National Taiwan University)的新闻学教授何荣幸在《中国时报》(China Times)上发表的一篇社论中称,五年后,估计年税收收入将为155亿新台币,这一数字十分诱人,但他也警告,这些预测基于一个有风险的假设,即中国大陆允许赌客未来不间断地前往马祖。

自从提倡增进两岸关系的马英九在2008年台湾大选中获胜后,海峡两岸关系显著改善。作为一种善意姿态,同年,中国大陆放松了台湾游限制。根据台湾旅游局公布的数字,2011年,约180万中国大陆公民到台湾旅游,成为台湾最大的海外游客群体。

然而,台湾对中国大陆日益增加的经济依赖也令许多人担忧,因为中国大陆可以随意收紧旅游政策──2009年9月台湾南部城市高雄不顾中国大陆的反对接待了达赖喇嘛(Dalai Lama)之后数月中国大陆便这样做了。

还有些人怀疑,马祖是否有能力与赌博天堂澳门竞争,后者已经拥有稳定的中国大陆赌客来源,他们还表示出对通常与赌博有关的犯罪和其他社会问题的担忧。

这种担忧目前仍然会产生影响,因为,为了在马祖岛建设赌场,台湾首先必须通过《赌博法》(Gambling Act),这项将使赌博在特定情况下合法化的法案目前仍处于草案阶段。

众达律师事务所(Jones Day)的律师威廉·布赖森(William Bryson)在过去20年中一直参与起草这项法案,他认为,内华达州赌博委员会(Nevada Gaming Commission)实施的严格审批程序已经让全球赌博业高度自律。他说,只要赌博法采用最严格的条款,台湾“将坏人挡在门外,将好人请进门来”就不是一件难事。

布赖森将马祖公投通过该项议案称为“一个转变范例”,他预测该投票将“大大加速”立法进程,甚至重燃经营者在2009年彭湖的类似公投失败后对其他台湾小岛消退的兴趣。

《赌博法》的支持者希望草案可以在今年年底前提交立法院审议。但是,尽管在野党民进党称其尊重马祖人民的意愿,但其坚称将反对该法案,这意味着在台湾,赌博合法化成为现实尚需时日。

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