Taiwan held a referendum on Saturday that approved the construction of a casino resort, the first of its kind on the island.
The measure was part of President Ma Ying-jeou’s campaign promise in 2008 to legalize the establishment of casinos through regional referendums. According to The Nikkei, 3,000 residents participated in the referendum in Matsu Islands. A majority 57% voted for the casino plan while 42% voted against it.
Casino gambling has been a controversial issue in Taiwan despite an amendment in 2009 legalizing the establishment of casinos in international hotels and resorts as part of development efforts for outlying islands. A similar referendum was held in 2009 to host casinos in the Penghu Islands off Taiwan’s western coast, but over 56% voted against it.
Supporters of the plan told The Nikkei that putting up casinos can attract tourists, create employment and improve the transportation infrastructure. On the contrary, critics cited environmental damage and social problems.