Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is an Eastern Asian country that many believe has great potential for a booming casino industry. That said, currently, this sector is severely restricted by the local government, with many wondering if there are any signs of implementing more lax gambling laws any time soon.
At the moment of writing this article, Taiwan still has not decriminalized gambling, with the country having a long history of gambling restrictions. Despite having forbidden gambling for almost a century, Taiwan was showing some signs of a possible change in the law and reintroduction of a casino industry in the country.
In 2009, suggestions for amendments in the law gave a glimmer of hope for land-based casinos being launched within the country. That said, this piece of legislation has not still been implemented as Taiwanese lawmakers are still on the fence about such changes.
With neighboring China constantly trying to influence the laws in Taiwan, some pressure was also applied by China when it came to the issue of legalizing gambling in Taiwan. What is more, locals seem to be against legalizing brick-and-mortar casinos, with very few people showing a positive attitude towards such changes.
History of Gambling in Taiwan
According to the laws in Taiwan, all forms of gambling are illegal. The only exception is the state lottery which does not fall under the category of “gambling” according to the Taiwanese legislative framework. Despite the current harsh laws banning gambling, that is not to say that this form of entertainment was not present in Taiwan’s history.
Several gambling forms were quite popular on the island of Taiwan in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, during the ruling of the Qing Dynasty. At that time, the flower match game was extremely popular, with many citizens getting into debts they were unable to pay.
With the issue of gambling addiction becoming more serious, the authorities in Taiwan started introducing various restrictions, one of which was an unsuccessful attempt to ban gambling activities in 1897. During the Japanese colonization, illegal gambling continued to rule in Taiwan mainly due to Japanese organized crime groups.
In 1935, the Criminal Code of the Republic of China was enacted, outlawing any form of gambling. The only gambling-type of games players were allowed to participate in included mahjong at Chinese New Year celebrations and card games that offer non-currency prizes.
While in 1951 Taiwan legalized lottery games, other forms of gambling remained illegal. Several politicians expressed their disapproval of the harsh laws, claiming that they will only help the increased number of illegal casinos and underground gambling venues. Despite several attempts to introduce several amendments to the current legislation, no changes have been introduced yet, with all forms of gambling still being illegal in Taiwan.
Currently, gambling in Taiwan is regulated by the Criminal Code of the Republic of China which was enacted in 1935. Under this law, both participating in and providing venues for gambling activities are deemed illegal. In addition to land-based gambling, participating in online gambling is also illegal, with Taiwanese players having no licensed online casino operators to rely on.
The only exception to the gambling ban is the lottery which was legalized in 1951. The reason why lottery games are not considered illegal in Taiwan is that they do not fall under the category of gambling according to Taiwanese laws.
As of now, gambling in Taiwan remains illegal under the Taiwanese Criminal Code. Both land-based and online gambling are not permitted on the territory of the country, with both participants and those who offer such activities facing penalties.
While casinos are still not legalized in Taiwan, lottery games have been established several times throughout the history of the country. Nowadays, lottery games are commissioned by the Ministry of Finance and the money collected through the lottery is used for funding different public matters. Sports lottery has also been legalized, allowing Taiwanese bettors to place wagers on US MLB and NBA games.
Outside the lottery and the limited options of sports lottery, Taiwan has not legalized any other form of gambling. Although there have been suggestions for amendments in the law, and even the ban on land-based casinos was lifted in 2009, no casinos were actually allowed to launch on the offshore islands of Taiwan. Online gambling is also out of the question, with local authorities imposing penalties on those caught illegally gambling online.