Friday, May 03, 2013

Draft Gambling Legislation Passed by Cabinet

Trash row.

With the residents of Matsu approving gambling on their island via referendum, the Cabinet has passed a draft bill. The Matsu gambling referendum, as I noted in a blog post last year, is the camel's nose in the tent....
In my previous post on this topic I collected the following information.....
The AmCham article notes that infrastructure on Matsu is primitive and bad weather often shuts down transportation, making it the less preferable of the two islands. It seems intuitively obvious that a referendum for Kinmen is in the cards at some point.
This suggests also that this whole Matsu casino thing is vapor and no casinos are ever going to appear on the island -- the real point is to have the referendum in a place where it can't lose, get the necessary gambling laws passed, and then put pressure on Kinmen to allow casino gambling. The AmCham article also makes the comical claim that casinos in Taiwan can be kept free of gangsterism. Kinda like the way professional baseball in Taiwan is, eh? I also observed that those casinos are covered under the offshore islands act, which frees businesses on the island of taxation. Meaning that those casinos will pay no taxes to the government, as far as I can see. Does anyone know different?
The legislation has been duly drafted and has some nice social welfare touches (KMT news):
The draft bill clearly specifies a list of gambling regulations. Anyone who is a recipient of government assistance, has been declared bankrupt, or who has a bad credit card debt record, shall be prohibited from entering casino premises. Furthermore, the draft bill also rigorously stipulates an anti-addiction clause allowing members of the extended-family within the fourth degree of blood relations, or partners in a common-law marriage, to apply for a ban prohibiting people who are addicted to gambling from entering casino premises.
The bill also allows the government to collect "royalties" on casinos:
According to the draft bill, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication would collect monthly royalty payments on casinos of 7% in the first 15 years and 9% afterwards. The local government may also impose a special tax as high as 7%. The combination of the two shall not exceed 17%.
It will be interesting to see how far that gets watered down when the bill goes through the legislature. By comparison, here is the tax information for Macao (UNLV):
Taxation: Effective tax rate: 38 to 39%.There is a 35% tax on gross gaming revenue, and a 1.6% contribution to the Macao Foundation, as well as a 1.4% (for SJM) or 2.4% (for everyone else) contribution to the Infrastructure/Tourism/Social Security Fund (source).
According to the Taiwan Today piece, under the draft bill, patrons of the casinos will not have their winnings taxed for the first twenty years. The government said that the casinos will not go in until 2019 at the earliest. Thus, expect pressure to land on Kinmen and eventually, Penghu again. The referendum was held in Sept of 2009, and eight years must pass before the public can have another referendum on the same issue. So around 2016 we should start looking for a new media push for gambling in the Penghu -- unless by then they have it on the main island of Taiwan....

REF: Marcus Clinch's excellent overview of gambling issues in Taiwan.
Daily Links:
  • 13 year search for Cloud Leopard ends
  • NBR: H7N9 Flu in the Asia-Pacific: Risks, Responses, and the Consequences of Better Surveillance
  • Difference between Right and Left on Taiwan? Right-wing mags show sympathy for and understanding of Taiwan's predicament this week (National Review). Meanwhile over at The Nation the rare mention of Taiwan in a lefty publication last year is of course a criticism of the horrible "Taiwan lobby" using Beijing-colored POV. Sucks.
  • Freedom House on Taiwan's media situation: not as good as it could be, still better than most. Also on the media: China Policy Institute blog post on the anti-media monopoly movement from movement inside.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

It will be interesting how this will turn out. In nearby regions, you have Macau, Singapore, Seoul, Philippines, Vietnam, all providing the grand resort type casinos, but with much better infrastructure and 'outside casino' entertainment. Matsu will have to start from zero. They will have to build bridges, airport, ferry and roads They will need additional water, electricity. Eeks. Im pretty sure they have other plans in place i.e getting the gambling law passed and building on the main island, which makes much more sense.

Michael Turton said...

I agree. Matsu requires too much development. I think this is about getting gambling somewhere else.

Okami said...

I'd have to say that this probably has more to do with the construction industrial complex getting paid off than anything to do with gambling. There's already plenty enough gambling as it is on Taiwan from Taipei to Kending. All that infrastructure has to be built with all that concrete laid which would all come out of the Kaoshiung port with all that money splashing around. When's construction start and when's the next presidential election?

I was shocked by your kind words on National Review. I never thought I'd see that. The British guy(Nordlinger?) who got fired for that one piece, with a Chinese wife was a big Taiwan supporter there, but he was how do you say, too politically incorrectly honest?

I expect next you'll start wondering if there are any Kermit Gosnell abortion doctors in Taiwan. Now that would be illuminating.

Mike Fagan said...

On the leopard study...

A better article is here, from which I quote the first sentence because with it the author unwittingly raises several interesting points:

"Thirteen years, 1,500 infrared cameras, hundreds of catnip-baited hair traps and an almost incalculable number of hours in the field have confirmed what scientists have long feared: the Formosan clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura) is in all likelihood extinct. "

If the question was ever asked as to why such a very substantial and prolonged effort was made to confirm what was already considered extremely likely, then the only answer I can think of is pure romanticism. But that doesn't strike me as a particularly sensible basis on which to conduct biodiversity research. Thirteen years and god knows how much money and effort on only one species for which there were already very strong reasons to believe was extinct?

Not reasonable.

A second point is that, since the exploratory work of zoologists around the world is obviously limited (no doubt in part by being concentrated on romantic projects like this), it follows that current knowledge on speciation and extinction rates is bound to be somewhat conjectural due to insufficient data. That would seem to undermine with some doubt the claim that extinction rates far outstrip speciation rates due to human development.

A third point, which is actually a question would be what ecological difference has the extinction of the clouded leopard had over and above the effects of other things like road building? The question is necessary in order to support the claim that extinction of apex predators can cause havoc through ecosystems. Surely the thirteen years could have been better spent on historical research concerning the ecology of the leopard's habitat before, during and after the exinction event? I would think it might be quite difficult but very worthwhile to distinguish the effects of the leopard's extinction, from the effects of other things like road building in the mountains.

Okami said...

@Mike Fagan

Most of the work was done by undergrads and professors from National Universities who can basically throw money and students at problems without many limitations. Cats are also sexy, something that grabs the heart. I generally detest universities and the people who work at or attend them. Unless you're the govt or a huge famous corporation, their attitude is you can screw off.

I think the biggest problem is they were an apex predator with high social status as a hunted animal. It's probably the thing holding up reintroduction until the govt can get buy in from the aboriginal hunter community. Because if you're a dirt poor aboriginal and you see one of those cats, then it's payday for you. They already have problems with them poaching trees.

Mike Fagan said...

Further thoughts...

If the study is meant as a smokescreen to deter poachers from looking for the leopards (i.e. the cats are not yet extinct, but the authors claim that they are in order to conceal and thereby protect them), then this also raises some interesting points.

To begin with, is it likely to work? I would think that, to a poacher scanning wildlife news networks and so forth for information, this type of ruse would be a little too transparent. The article is effectively putting up a big sign over Taiwan saying "NO RARE, ENDANGERED, VALUABLE CLOUDED LEOPARDS HERE!!!" which, if I were a poacher, would immediately pique my interest. Surely an absence of information would be better?

Second, it's the noble lie tactic. Frankly, this is simply at odds with all academic (and journalistic) virtues and can have no place in an institution supposedly devoted to discovery. If the researchers would lie about this due to "higher" ethical concerns, then we must ask what ourselves what else will they lie about.

Third, the pragmatic justification for this tactic, assuming it does in fact work, is that there are no other ways to protect the leopards from poachers, or if there are, they will not be successfully implemented for one reason or another.

Since the poachers are motivated by financial reward rather than any personal reason, then so long as they have some alternative, deterrence is simply a question of raising their costs until they stop. One way to approach this would be to try to reduce market demand for leopard skins in a way comparable to the current effort to eliminate market demand for shark-fin soup by shaming people (this tactic effectively raises the poachers' costs relative to potential income). Another way might be to raise the costs of poaching (e.g. by surveillance and punishment). Granted, currently legal punishment procedures may be ineffective, but that just means that other "techniques" would have to be explored.

@Okami: I wasn't asking the question to which your comment is the answer. Having done postgraduate work myself a decade ago, I'm quite familiar with how a university functions, thanks.