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Voters on offshore Taiwan island OK casinos

The offshore Taiwanese island chain of Matsu appears set to join Macau in the China gambling sweepstakes.

Matsu voters approved a referendum Saturday permitting casino gambling on the islands, located about 20 kilometers (11 miles) from the Chinese coast.

The measure must still be approved by the legislature in Taipei, but with President Ma Ying-leou's government strongly in favor, that is considered likely.

Over the past 10 years the Chinese territory of Macau has developed into the largest gambling center in the world, hosting thousands of Chinese visitors daily, mostly from the adjacent province of Guangdong.

Matsu is expected to cater to residents of the nearby Chinese city of Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province. Fuzhou has a metropolitan population of about 7 million.