Cabinet endorses casino law

The cabinet sent to parliament a draft casino bill laying out the tax regime and admission rules to be followed. Those under 20 years old will be barred and the law would set up an exclusion list for family members to add relatives and bar those in bankruptcy, receiving government aid or with excess debt. ATMs will be barred inside casinos.

Operators will pay a franchise fee to the national government of 7 percent of revenue during their first 15 years of operation, with the rate sliding up to 8 percent and 9 percent later. Local governments will be able to impose a gambling tax of up to 7 percent of revenues, with another 1 percent of revenues split between problem gambling programs and local education, cultural and welfare activities. Players’ winnings will be free from tax for the first 20 years after casinos open.

The bill stipulates that casinos will only be allowed within resorts on outlying islands, with gaming space restricted to 5 percent of a resort’s area. Casino licenses will be valid for 30 years, but Transportation Minister Yeh Kuan-shih said he didn’t expect the first to open until at least 2019, though the government may start taking applications this summer if the legislature passes the bill promptly, with the review expected to take six months to a year. Weidner Resorts has been pushing a plan to develop a casino resort on Matsu island, where residents voted to approve casino gambling.