The history of gambling in Taiwan can be traced back to the 17th century during the Qing Dynasty era. At the time, there were over 100 popular games, with Flower Match Game being the most popular one.
Unfortunately, these games had a negative impact on the population. Historians say that Flow Match was very popular to the point of social disruption. The game hooked many locals to a point where the socio-economic fabric started to disintegrate.
For example, in 1896, problem gambling was so vast that compulsive gamblers started engaging in criminal activity to fund their dirty habits. Worse enough, some men even sold their daughters to brothels to get money to gamble or pay their gambling debts.
To curb the growing vice, Taiwanese authorities embarked on a mission to restrict gambling in 1897, but all the efforts were in vain. Under Japanese colonial rule, Japanese gangs were behind the rising cases of illegal gambling.
In 1935, Taiwan introduced the Criminal Code of the Republic of China that banned all forms of public gambling.
The law prohibits using all currency forms in gambling, but players can use non-currency items such as matchsticks. Later on, in 1951, the Uniform Invoice Lottery was established. It introduced a national lottery. But then, casino-style games remained illegal.
Gambling nowadays in Taiwan
Currently (as of 2021), Taiwan's legislature has been debating many proposals with a mission to legalize casino-style gambling.
Besides the legislature's debates, several other proposals arose after the legislature amended the Offshore Islands Development Act. The amendments paved the way for the legalization of gambling in Taiwan's offshore islands.
For example, the Penghu Islands proposal led to a referendum to develop a local casino, but the residents rejected the proposal.
There's also the 2012 Matsu Islands proposal. Residents voted for the construction of a casino. Other proposals included the 2013 New Taipei City proposal and the Keelung Islet proposal aimed at establishing casinos.
However, there are many strong opponents of the legalization of gambling. A good example is Pan Han-Shen's publication in Taiwan Times.
In the article, the central executive committee member and candidate argue that building the casinos in the offshore islands would facilitate illegal activity, including corruption and money laundering.