Taiwan mustn’t gamble on casinos
“Don Corleone said quietly, `It is true I have many, many friends in politics, but they would not be so friendly if my business were narcotics instead of gambling. They think gambling is something like liquor, a harmless vice.'”
That comment by Mario Puzo’s fictional godfather should serve to remind Taiwan’s government of the always present and close ties between legalized gambling and organized crime. It should also serve to remind the general public that gambling is not “a harmless vice.”
The idea of allowing legalized gambling in Taiwan has recently been in the news. Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Chu-lan (¸µâÄõ) has been on a tax payer-supported junket to Las Vegas ostensibly to study “tourism” (“Minister jets off to Las Vegas to study tourism,” Aug. 10, page 1). Obviously, tourism in Vegas means gambling.
This is not the first time that the government has considered gambling. Several years ago the Ministry of Justice looked into what impact legalized gambling would have on the criminal justice system. At that time the consensus was that the cost of legalization outweighed the benefits.
The situation has changed since then — for the worse. Taiwan’s economy is clearly in a downturn and the government is becoming increasingly desperate for a quick fix. One solution that is being considered is gambling. The best metaphor I can use to describe that solution is that it is like drinking seawater to assuage one’s thirst. It looks tempting when one is very thirsty but it merely hastens your death. Legalized gambling will only speed up the death of an economy already in trouble.
The reasons for this are several, and they have been clearly shown by studies done on legalized gambling in different parts of the US. The US-basedTogel Hongkong …