According to local news reports Weidner Resorts Taiwan is turning up the heat on the country’s legislature to pass the laws required for the gambling industry to be legalized. While casinos may theoretically be built on offshore islands, there is a lack of clear nationwide regulation, so at this point both land-based and online casinos in Taiwan are practically illegal.
A draft law has been in the works since last July, when the government announced its intention to ease the prohibition, but its approval has so far been delayed, in spite of having a relatively wide political support.
Weidner Resorts has been planning a casino and resort investment on the island of Matsu since around the same time. The local population is mostly enthusiastic about the idea, although there are some who question the promises made in connection with the project.
Last year the US-based developer, headed by former Las Vegas Sands Corp. President William Weidner (66), unveiled plans to build and integrated resort complete with 2,000 hotel rooms, casino, ferry terminal and a performance venue. In addition, the planned USD 8.3 billion investment would also include funds towards the upgrade of an airport, extensive roadwork and even the creation of a university.
While voicing his continued commitment to the project, Weidner has also made his discontent clear during a visit to Matsu this week. As it stands now the company would revise the legal feasibility of the project at the end of June. Should Taiwanese gambling laws remain unclear, Weidner Resorts may move its investment to elsewhere in Asia. Possible destinations include Japan, India or one of Russia’s designated casino regions.
Critics would be happy to have the company drop the project. They claim that Weidner’s record of being practically fired from Las Vegas Sands in 2009 should make locals and authorities cautious. They also point out that for the promised profits and local benefits to be realized Taiwan would have to outgrow Macau as a preferred gambling hub, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Considering the pace of legislation it may be a while before the local players can go through the doors of a casino or even be legally allowed to play online poker in Taiwan.
The Taiwanese government did not issue a statement.