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GTI Global Network > GTI Features > GTI Figures > Interviews
Double Strength Creates the Win-Win Situation:Interview with the Representative of the Nevada State Office on Economic Development, Charlyne Chen
Double Strength Creates the Win-Win Situation:
Interview with the Representative of the Nevada State Office on Economic Development,
Charlyne Chen


By Enzo Chang/ Chloe Su

The President of the Executive Yuan, Liu, Zhou-Xuan, gave the green light for the referendum in Penghu regarding casino establishment on June 17, 2009; the first casino in Taiwan is expected to be built in Penghu.  What advice would Charlyne Chen, the person who has rich experiences of introducing the Las Vegas-style casinos to Taiwan, give the Taiwanese government on the development of the casino industry?  And where will Taiwan go after the opening of casinos in the near future?

The combination of tourism and gambling in Penghu

Game Time International (GTI): The referendum regarding the establishment of casinos in Penghu has been approved by the Executive Yuan.  What do you think will be the next step? 
Charlyne Chen (CC): I think the gambling industry of Taiwan is promising; however, certain procedures and schemes must be planned properly in advance.  Take Singapore for example, the building of casinos was legislated before the referendum was held; and the choosing of locations for building casinos was done last.  But here in Taiwan, the gambling act was passed first, then the choosing of casinos was done after, and the legislation came last.  The whole procedure is different here in Taiwan; however, it is always good to have a start.  The building of casinos has been under discussion for more than ten years; what should the government take into consideration now is not whether to build casinos or not but whether or not to include gambling in tourism, and how to attract foreign investments. 

  • The establishment of casinos in Taiwan has been a hot issue; heads of many local governments such as Taipei County, Taizhong City and Kaohsiung County fight aggressively to win the chance for the establishment of casinos.

GTI: What advice would you give on detailed planning?
CC: Ordinary tourist development like building hotels by Hyatt and Hilton, could never bring billions of dollars of investments.  Take the investment of Sands in Singapore for example; it has invested USD 5 billion in facilities like an arena, theater, shopping mall and showroom.  The gaming floor occupies only 5% of the total area, but the revenue is 45% of the total revenue generated by the entire tourism. 

In my opinion, infrastructures must be implemented, especially in outlying islands, before the building of casinos kicks off.  In order to balance the gap between cities and townships, the Taiwanese government now counts on opening casinos to activate the development of outlaying islands; that is why the Executive Yuan approved the referendum in Penghu.  Being benefited by the establishment of casinos, more resources and work opportunities will come to the people in outlying islands.

Furthermore, the relation between Taiwan and China is the key.  Once casinos are opened in Taiwan, the main group of visitors will come from China.  Looking from the point of view of gaining profits, the coming of Chinese tourists helps casino investors retrieve capital quickly.  How to combine the casino development with tourism is what the government should think thoroughly now.

Human racecourses are the biggest advantage

GTI: Some people think that the involvement of foreign investments would damage the benefits of Taiwanese corporations.  What do you think about this?
CC: Let’s take cell phones for example, if one company in Taiwan wants to OEM for NOKIA or iPhone, all products it made must undergo related tests.  If the company wants to launch the product without testing it, it becomes the copycat phone.

The casino industry is a highly-regulated industry; payouts, equity and justice are required.  Why can the American casino industry attract international investors and can be listed in NASDAQ?  The reason is it is very open and fair; no cheats can be allowed on the gaming floor.  I think the Taiwanese operators do not have to worry because they are two different markets; the market of original products and the market of fake products.  Operators should think thoroughly about how to expand the market. 

GTI: What advantages does Taiwan have on the establishment of casinos?
CC: It is not easy to promote tourist competitiveness in a quick time; everything must proceed based on the long-term scheme.  At present many Asian countries are pouring a great deal of capital for the development of tourism in order to raise competitiveness.  Aside from counting on the government’s policies and city plans, Taiwan’s success depends on connecting local cultures and unique characteristics with original resources, plus nurturing tourist talents with global views. 

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is capable of offering related resources and solutions to Taiwan; this is favorable to the future development of Taiwan’s tourism.  Except copying the successful experience of Las Vegas, UNLV has the Hotel Management course that ranks No. 1 in MICE for Taiwanese to refer to.  Famous for its technology industry, there are high-quality human resources in Taiwan.  It is my opinion that Taiwan can work harder towards the casino development, online games and the building of a digital certificate center for the entire Asia Pacific Zone. 

In the future, I hope to fight for the chance for the Taiwanese government that all gambling machines must be certificated in Taiwan before they are placed in casinos in Asia; this is really a good opportunity for the technological talents in Taiwan to bring their skills into full play.

Endeavor to become the center of the Asian amusement industry

GTI: Casinos are very likely to be built in Taiwan in the near future.  What flaws must be avoided?
CC: The premise for establishing casinos is comprehensive regulations and measures; everything must be examined by the strictest standards.  Taiwanese authorities have to regulate and limit the qualification of dealers harshly.  With regards to the recruitment of investments, it is a must to set up a complete set of measures.  Taiwan has the ability to introduce the best operating team to manage casinos for sure; I really don’t want to witness things that happened to Yamay happen again.  Big international investments like casino investments require highly-institutionalized management.  The rise of the economy in the Chinese region has drawn great attention from the world; people here have to work harder to achieve greater accomplishment in the game market as well and infuse the Chinese culture into it.  To put it another way is to bring the most essential thing into full play.
  •  In order to form a steady base for the Taiwanese gambling industry, Nevada State Office on Economic Development held many gambling forums.  Pictured from right to left are Charlyne Chen, Liu Zheng-Hong, the head of Miaoli County, Dr. Mann, Father of Gambling and Dr. Andy, Principal of UNLV, Singapore Campus.

GTI: How do you regard the thriving Asian gambling and amusement industry?  How does it affect Taiwan?
CC: There are several projects going on in Asia right now; those indeed cause pressures to neighboring countries.  Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is going to open at the end of 2009; projects in the Philippines and Vietnam are catching up; Japan and Thailand are considering legalizing casinos.  As far as Taiwan is concerned, the developments of the gambling industry in the above countries indeed are threats; however, they also bring tremendous business opportunities. 

The American gambling industry went through numerous revolutions and competition to achieve what it has today – Las Vegas, a gambling Mecca that has tons of hotels and casinos.  The Taiwanese government has to quicken the pace of implanting policies and cooperate with foreign managing teams in order to keep up its competitiveness. 

When the authority is considering how to bring the most benefits to Taiwan, it is also important for them to reduce the negative effects that may result in social costs.  The Taiwanese government should follow Las Vegas as an example and avoid making the same mistakes; the quality of casinos in Taiwan should be raised to the highest level at the very beginning.

GTI: As to your opinion, what are the keys for Taiwan to catch-up with Macao and Singapore?
CC: Compared to neighboring countries, Taiwan is a very beautiful country with good natural and regional advantages.  The Singaporean government changed its attitude towards gambling from opposition to acceptance with good policies.  What Taiwan needs right now is assistance and professional advice.  It takes a great amount of capital to build up a state-of-the-art entertainment center in Asia combining exhibitions, vacations and casinos.  The most important thing is to have an investor who has vision and know the market very well. 

Taiwan Gaming Exploratory Council that was formed by many international professionals and led by Dr. Andy, Father of the Asian gambling industry, possesses rich legal, capital and managing experiences and can assist the Taiwanese government in planning a complete set of measures and researching, as well as integrating talents, technologies and capitals.
Charlyne Chen’s Profile
Background -
Graduated from the Department of Business Administration, UNLV
1980   Managing Motel 8 Las Vegas
1992   Buyer of the Germany-based MCR Data Connect
2003   European Article Number, Consultant of Taiwan
2003   Awarded “Outstanding young entrepreneurs in Asia” by Yazhou Zhoukan

Current Position –
Representative of Taiwan, Economic and Trade Development of Nevada, USA
Representative of Taiwan, UNLV
Consultant of Ponghu County’s gambling development
Source: Nevada State Office on Economic Development

Progress of Nevada State Office on Economic Development’s assistance in Taiwan’s gambling industry:
September 22, 2003   The establishment of Nevada State Office on Economic  Development in Taiwan
October 6, 2003          Eight councilors of Nevada visited Taiwan
May 29, 2004              Charlyne Chen accompanied the former  
                                  Vice-President of Taiwan - Annette Lu in the first transit in Las Vegas
April 10, 2006             Charlyne Chen was assigned the representative of UNLV in Taiwan
August, 27, 2007         Father of Gambling, Dr. Mann, was invited to the 1st Taiwan Gambling Forum
May 4, 2008                Charlyne Chen accompanied Liu Zheng-Hong, Head of Miaoli County, Li Chao-Ching,
                                  Head of Nantou County and Zhuo Bo-Yuan, Head of Zhanghua County to visit Las
December 9, 2008      Dr. Andy, Principal of UNLV, Singapore Campus was invited to deliver a speech in
January 12, 2009        The amendment of Offshore Islands Development Act was passed in the Legislative
                                  Yuan of Taiwan
February 18, 2009      Charlyne Chen accompanied the representative of the United States – Shelley
                                  Berkeley to call on the Head of Jinmen County and Ponghu County
May 7, 2009               Charlyne Chen was invited the guest of the inauguration of GTI Asia Taipei Expo 2009
Source: Nevada State Office on Economic Development

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