Offshore island votes to open Taiwan's first casino

TAIPEI - Residents of the offshore island of Matsu voted on Saturday in favour of opening Taiwan's first legal casino, officials said.

A total of 1,795 people voted "yes" in the referendum on allowing a casino while 1,341 voted against it and 28 cast invalid votes, said the Matsu county government, adding the voter turnout rate was 40 per cent.

Residents of another offshore island, Penghu, voted against hosting gambling facilities in 2009.

The county government has said that a casino would help attract investors and tourists, bringing in much-needed funds to Matsu to improve its economy and infrastructure.

Matsu is close to the city of Fuzhou in southeast China.

Asia is in the midst of a casino building boom, fuelled by wealthy VIP gamblers from mainland China, where casinos are not allowed.

The United Evening News estimated that Matsu could start operating a casino in two years at the earliest as a bill regulating gambling establishment is still pending approval in parliament.

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