Treasure Islands - Last Chance Saloon?
Will Taiwan ever manage to legalise casinos?Friday, 29 May 2009
Last Chance Saloon?
Taiwan has missed so many opportunities it may struggle to catch the regional competition
"In 2000 LVS, Harrah's and MGM MIRAGE visited Taiwan—a long time before Macau's investment. We had a chance at that time, but we lost the chance," says Simon Liu of Jumbo Technology.
"Some friends ask me to estimate when a casino will be built. I say 2013 to 2015. That's in around five years time. By then Entertainment City in Manila will have been operating for several years and Macau will have new venues online.
"This is all because of the inefficiency of the government. We can't just spend all our time dreaming about it. We have to put it into practice," he adds.
"If you're in Taiwan and you want to gamble, there are markets within relatively easy reach. A flight from Taiwan to Macau is about one hour and ten minutes. From Taiwan to Manila is one hour, 15 minutes," he points out.
"It will still take 30-40 minutes to get from Taiwan to Penghu, not including check in. So where will you choose to go? If I'm a gambler, I will go overseas, so I can combine a real vacation with a visit to a casino. Penghu is like gambling at home," adds Mr Liu.
Michael Chen of Harrah's says the ground rules for successful development of new casino markets are straightforward.
"Our recommendations to governments that want to invite in gaming to drive tourism are simple," he explains.
"Let the investors be the owners over time, if not right away; consider separating regulator from operator; and minimise the factors that inhibit the ability of the business to grow competitively in the market.
"Yes, the industry globally is currently in a crisis, but in the long term the future is bright. Asia is just at the beginning in terms of casino market growth."