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Talk of the Day -- World Poker Tour coming to Taiwan?

Talk of the Day -- World Poker Tour coming to Taiwan?

Taiwan is likely to become a stop on the World Series of Poker Tour, but the country's ban on gambling presents a legal obstacle that will have to be overcome, a local newspaper said Monday. According to the United Evening News (UEN), Minister-without-Portfolio Yang Chiu-hsing hosted an inter-ministerial meeting last week to discuss whether Taiwan should open its door to international poker tournaments. Yang was cited as having suggested at the meeting that poker tournaments be defined as intellectual contests rather than gambling. He contended that hosting a global or regional poker tournament not only could generate tourism revenues but also help promote Taiwan to the world through live broadcasts of the event. The following are excerpts of a special report in the UEN's Monday edition on the poker tournament issue: Taiwan has a rich poker talent pool. Kuo Hui-chen captured the Macau Poker Cup Main Event in October 2009 and Lin Hung-sheng won the Macau Millions Main Event in April 2011. As of mid-July 2013, Fan Yun-hsiang was at the top of the Asia Player of the Year rankings after winning the Macau Poker Cup in April. Another Taiwanese, Chen Li-han, finished third in the same event. All of these players' strong performances have prompted international poker tournament organizers to become interested in Taiwan as a potential tournament venue. Lee and Li Attorneys-at-Law filed an appeal with the Executive Yuan recently, saying that foreign poker tournament organizers are hoping to make Taiwan a stop on their Asia-Pacific tour. But because Taiwan does not have a law covering poker tournaments, the Taipei-based law firm said, foreign organizers are afraid to get embroiled in legal controversies and want to see Taiwan outline clear regulations on the game. Yang recalled in an interview with this paper that a local company was previously charged with gambling for organizing a poker competition. It was found not guilty in the first trial but was convicted of gambling in the second trial and given a suspended penalty. "The conflicting rulings indicated that local judges were divided over whether poker competitions constitute gambling," Yang said. "I myself support a more liberal attitude toward poker tournaments," he said, adding that Taiwan needs a more liberal policy to boost its economic development. He said Taiwan does not need to amend any of its existing laws to host a regional or international poker tourney. "It mainly involves how existing laws or regulations would be defined or executed," Yang said. During the recent inter-ministerial meeting, Yang said the National Police Agency under the Ministry of the Interior did not voice opposition to his open-door proposal. The difference between poker contests and gambling is mainly that poker players must quit when they use up their chips while gamblers can continue to gamble freely, Yang said. He further said foreign organizers have expressed a willingness to commission a nonprofit organization in Taiwan to organize the event or donate profits from the contest to charities. Yang said all opinions presented at the meeting will be referred to the interior and justice ministries for consideration. "Anyway, I hope restrictions can be eased to pave the way for hosting poker contests in Taiwan," he said. Yeh Ching-yuan, a Lee & Li attorney, said a week-long poker tournament could generate at least NT$45 million in tourism revenue for Taiwan. The World Series of Poker has held events in North America, Latin America, New Zealand, Australia and Asia-Pacific countries such as Macau, South Korea and the Philippines. According to Yeh, the organizer of the World Series of Poker plans to hold one competition in Taipei in the second half of the year and another one in Kaohsiung every year in the fall. A poker tournament tends to attract an average of 1,700 players, Yeh said. (Aug. 12, 2013). (By Sofia Wu)


Updated : 2021-02-25 04:35 GMT+08:00