As Taiwan prepares for its upcoming presidential election on January 13, 2024, authorities have issued a warning against the use of cryptocurrency betting platforms for election wagering. This comes as part of a larger investigation into illegal online gambling, with some Taiwanese individuals already under questioning.
Election Betting Draws Legal Attention in Taiwan
Taiwanese authorities are concerned about the use of decentralized platforms such as Polymarket for election betting. Despite the belief of some that such transactions are not illegal, officials have clarified that any form of gambling related to the elections could result in serious consequences. According to Article 88-1 of the Election Law, violations could lead to up to six months in prison, criminal detention, or a fine of up to NT$100,000.
The authorities have also noted that money transfers from centralized exchanges to betting platforms are traceable, urging citizens to avoid any activities that may be in violation of election or recall legislation. This is especially important during the sensitive electoral period in Taiwan.
Crypto betting is not exclusive to Taiwan. In January 2022, Polymarket faced legal challenges in the United States. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused the platform of running an unregistered and illegal facility since June 2020, citing its high trading volume during the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Election Tensions Impact Taiwan’s Economic Forecast
As the presidential race heats up in Taiwan, its central bank has maintained the benchmark interest rate at 1.875%. This decision is in line with the analysts’ expectations and is an attempt to maintain economic and financial stability during the election season. The bank has kept the rates stable since March and recently revised its economic growth projections for the current and next years to 1.4% and 3.12%, respectively.
The slowdown in China’s economy and persistent high consumer prices are two major concerns of the central bank. The full-year inflation forecast has been revised to 2.46% for this year and 1.89% for the next.
The election is critical for Taiwan, as the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive term. However, the economic situation, especially the high consumer price index, poses a challenge for the DPP and its candidate, Vice President Lai Ching-te, who is currently leading in the polls but faces stiff competition from the Kuomintang’s Hou Yu-ih. The election result will have a significant impact on Taiwan’s geopolitical relations, particularly with China, as the Kuomintang’s more Beijing-friendly stance differs from the DPP’s.