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Casinos in Taiwan – History, Legality and Future Outlook

In Taiwan we have had discussion about opening legal casinos for more than two decades. The Offshore Islands Development Act was finally modified in January 2009 to allow for these. In July 2012 our offshore island Matsu held a vote and approved the building of a casino. While it looks promising that we will have casinos in the future, this is going to take some time. In May 2013, Transportation Minister Yeh Kuan-shih estimated that 2019 will be the earliest that the first one in Taiwan opens.

This leaves Taiwan residents with only a few options. There are a number of clubs offering casino games and poker in Taiwan, similar to places we play Mahjong. These are however illegal and are best avoided. Using online casinos and traveling to Macau are both much safer options.

Online Casinos

While there are no legal online gambling sites based in Taiwan, there are many legitimate, well regulated sites located in other countries that Taiwanese players can use. The list below are some of the best options.

  • Rank
  • Site
  • How to Deposit
  • Language
  • Visit Site

The first two sites on the above list are available in multiple languages including traditional Chinese, and support multiple currencies including Taiwan New Dollar (TWD). In order to use them, you first need to make a deposit. This initial deposit is your starting account balance.

So, let’s say you deposit NT$5,000. If you sit at say a blackjack table and win NT$1,000 your balance is then NT$6,000. If you instead had lost NT$1,000 your balance would be NT$4,000. You can only gamble the amount in your account balance. At any time, you can cash out by requesting a wire transfer withdrawal.

How to Deposit and Get Paid?

For regular online gamblers the better option is www.skrill.com. This is an e-wallet that functions the same as an online bank account, and supports Taiwan New dollar (TWD) currency. The only issue is that Skrill does not support all Taiwanese debit and credit cards. If you card does not work, you will need to send them a bank transfer in order to fund your Skrill account.

The benefits of using Skrill are many. Our currency is supported, the fees are lower, and casinos also make pay outs using this method. When you request a cash out by Skrill it goes straight to your Skrill balance. You can then cashout from Skrill directly to your bank account in Taiwan.

It is possible to use a TWD Skrill account to deposit and cashout from casinos, poker sites and online bookies.

Macau Casinos

Traveling to Macau to is very popular among Taiwanese people. According to official tourism statics, in 2012 there were 1,072,052 Taiwanese arrivals to Macau. It is a little over a 1-hour flight and Taiwan passport holders can enter Macau for up to 30-days with no visa required. Be aware, although it is rare anyone is caught, local law stipulates that the maximum that can be carried out of our country in cash is NT$10,000. It is also difficult to access large amounts of cash using an ATM card from a Taiwan bank while abroad. This is part of the reason that junkets are popular for organising trips.

If you’re planning a Macau trip yourself for the first time, be aware that the casinos there operate in Hong Kong dollar (HKD) currency as opposed to Macanese pataca (MOP). Both HKD and MOP can be used interchangeably in shops and with taxis but inside casinos “ONLY” HKD is accepted. When converting your Taiwan dollars make sure to exchange them for HKD.

As for what to expect, you can find almost every form of gambling in Macau. The most popular casino game is no doubt baccarat but other table games plus slot machines are widely available. There is also Keno, which in Taiwan we call Bingo Bingo. In Macau it is called Pacapio and can be found in the original (older) Lisboa casino. There is also horse racing, greyhounds, and even sports betting with Macau Slot.

Some Taiwanese gamblers might not be aware that all the games offered in Macau casinos are also available online; in fact there are far more options available on the internet. For example at www.10bet.com there are live dealer games for baccarat, blackjack, roulette and on occasion for Tai Sai (sic-bo).

These games use real croupiers located in a dealer studio in the Philippines. The games are played online and can be viewed using the latest in webcam rendering technology. Of course, Macau has other benefits as far as great food, drinking, saunas and beautiful women all over, but as far as gambling goes, all the same can be done on the internet.

asian live dealer casinos

Live dealer games are extremely popular in Asia. The above image shows 4 different Asian live dealer casinos.

Casino Gambling Law

In Taiwan we have long been pro gambling. Our first lottery was launched in 1906 while we were under Japanese rule (1895-1945). It was for the purpose of funding temples and social projects. After World War II we created the Patriot Lottery which featured anti-communist slogans on the tickets. This lottery was to encourage nationalism and pay for defense costs. Today legal gambling is widespread in Taiwan.

We have our Uniform Invoice Lottery which has run since 1951. With this, any purchase made at a store that is registered to pay tax comes with a free lottery ticket. On the 25th day of odd numbered months, a draw takes places. First prize is NT$10 million, but there are many smaller prizes too. As covered in my article on Taiwan Lottery this is only one of many lotteries in our country.

We have major draws such as Super Lotto (威力彩) and Lotto 6/49 (6/49大樂透 ) and a number of other real money gambling games. These include scratch cards, Bingo Bingo (Keno), 9-Line and daily number games.

Of course, we also have legal, regulated sports betting in Taiwan. This can be done with the Taiwan Sports Lottery (TSL) which has a government-granted monopoly on basketball, football and baseball betting. Despite all this legal gambling, casino games remain illegal in Taiwan. The specific laws on gambling come from Chapter 21: Articles 266-270 of our criminal code. Details are covered below.

Taiwan Criminal Code Gambling Law

taiwan gambling lawsThe gambling laws of Taiwan date back to a time when our Kuomintang government ruled mainland China. As a result all of the penalties are in yuan. The relevant articles are covered below.

Article 266

A person who gambles in a public place or a place open to the public shall be punished with a fine of not more than 1,000 yuan unless the item for which he gambles is one to provide temporary amusement.

Gambling apparatus at the site or a thing of value found at the gambling table or place for exchange of gambling tokens shall be confiscated whether or not it belongs to the offender.

Article 267

A person who makes, gambling an occupation shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than two years; in addition thereto, a fine of not more than 1,000 yuan may be imposed.

Article 268

A person who for the purpose of gain furnishes a place to gamble or assembles persons to gamble shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years; in addition thereto, a fine of not more than 3,000 yuan may be imposed.

Article 269

A person who for the purpose of gain operates a prize-giving savings business or issues lottery tickets without permission of the Government shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than one year or detention; in addition thereto, a fine of not more than 3,000 yuan may be imposed.

An agent who acts as an intermediary in a prize-giving savings business or in the sale of lottery tickets as specified in the preceding paragraph shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than six months or detention; in lieu thereof, or in addition thereto, a fine of not more than 1,000 yuan may be imposed.

Article 270

A public official who harbours another who commits an offence specified in this Chapter shall be subject to the punishment prescribed for such offense increased up to one half.

Is Online Gambling Legal?

Understand while I have shared the gambling laws of Taiwan above, I am definitely not a legal expert. The opinions expressed on this page should not in any way be construed as legal advice. With this disclaimer out of the way I would like to say:

It is my opinion our gambling law does not cover the use of foreign online casinos. More than a decade ago a gambling company named SportingBet advertised directly in our country. Their agents were raided and CBI gained access to the company’s records. About 300 Taiwan residents holding sportingbet.com accounts were referred for prosecution. In the end nothing came of this because there was nothing in our law that strictly outlawed the use of online gambling sites located overseas.

There are of course differences in opinion regarding the legality of online betting. If at all concerned, it is best to seek advice of a legal expert before you decide to play online.