Residents of Taiwan's Penghu group of islands on Saturday voted against hosting a new casino following the repeal of a law banning such gambling facilities.
Of 73,651 eligible voters who took part in a referendum, 17,359 voted against a casino in the Taiwan Strait archipelago, against 13,397 votes in favour and 298 invalid votes, the Penghu county government said.
AdvertisementCritics of gambling hailed the outcome, to the disappointment of those who had argued that casinos would help boost the local economy.
"We are very proud. This is a victory for all Penghu people," said Lin Chang-xing, head of the Casino Opposition Alliance.
"I was looking forward to seeing Taiwan's first casino in Penghu, which would revive the sluggish local economy and improve everybody's lives," said Hsueh Ming-ching, a 74-year-old barber.
The vote came after the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party pushed through a controversial bill in parliament in January to lift the decades-long ban on casinos.
The bill allows offshore islands to build casinos only if these are approved by the islands' residents in a referendum.
Penghu, which was competing against other offshore islands for the one or two casino licences the government planned to issue, would not be able to hold another referendum for another three years, officials said.
Casinos would likely attract half a million tourists to Penghu annually, generating 100 billion Taiwan dollars (3.13 billion US) worth of revenue in gambling and tourism, according to a government study.
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