Two lawmaking organizations approved modifications to Taiwanese gambling laws to deal sternly with match-fixing which has been interfering with the nation’s professional baseball league ever since 1996.
The new bill has already been passed by the Education and Culture Committee and the Finance Committee. If it passes the second and third readings by Taiwan’s complete governing body, it will amend the Sports Lottery Act to provide for jail sentences between 3 and 10 years and fines approaching 50 million TWD (1.66 million USD) for any instance of match-fixing concerning groups of more than three people. For individual breaches, game-fixing convicts could be sentenced to seven years and fines from 10 million to 30 million TWD (300 thousand to 1 million USD).
Lawmakers have been calling for stricter punishments because Executive Yuan’s recommendations were “too lenient” to deal with ongoing problems. Yuan’s proposal would merely have subjected individuals to less than five years and fines of 10 million TWD (300 thousand USD).
Match-fixing scandals have devastated the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL). At peak, the CPBL drew 6,000 spectators, but now the typical audience fills only from 1,000 to 2,000 seats. Suspected game-fixers have been detained in Taiwan to no avail.
Support for the new law seems unanimous. La New Bears president Su Ching-hsuan expects the jail terms to be a successful restraint against match-fixing. Yang Ai-hua, the Brother Elephants president, after seeing his team corrupted last year, declared “what we have hoped for has finally arrived.” Wayne Lee, CPBL Secretary-General, declared “the law must be observed and enforced completely.”
Sports-betting was unlawful in Taiwan until 2008 and it is still illegal to operate internet sportsbooks within the nation. However both underground and foreign gambling operators provide online sportsbooks in Taiwan. The new legislation is likely to unintended benefits for the many gambling operators and pundits who are not tipped off to the game-fixing, as these stakeholders will better reap the benefits of reasonable odds and just payouts.