The Macau government has set up what it calls a “referral mechanism” to help local associations liaise with the city’s casino operators on potential non-gaming projects related either to culture or sports.
According to an announcement on Tuesday, the city’s Cultural Affairs Bureau, in cooperation with the Sport Development Board, “will forward” to the casino operators not only projects presented by local associations, but also those either from local companies or individuals. The casino operators “will then decide on the support to be granted”, according to each casino firm’s own agenda.
Tuesday’s press release stressed that the casino operators would “independently review and respond” to each proposal forwarded via the referral scheme.
The announcement stated that if a proposal was “not within the scope” of the referral scheme, it would not be sent on to the city’s casino operators.
The government’s press release said the new referral scheme aimed “to encourage the diversification of Macau’s economy and to actively promote the support of major integrated tourism and leisure enterprises for the development of cultural and sports activities in Macau”.
It added: “The Macau government hopes that with the establishment of this referral mechanism, the local [casino] industry will have more opportunities for contact with different community resources.”
Development of cultural activities and sports tourism have been identified by the city’s government as important elements in Macau’s effort at economic diversification. They were also considerations for the local authorities when assessing the applications of gaming companies for the new 10-year Macau gaming concessions that were awarded last year, and started in January.
The six Macau operators have as a whole pledged to the government to spend in aggregate a minimum of MOP108.7 billion (US$13.48 billion) on non-gaming and exploring overseas-customer markets during the fresh concessions. Collectively they will have to increase their pledged concession-related investment for the next decade by as much as 20 percent if citywide annual gross gaming revenue reaches MOP180 billion.
As part of the investment plans, the six gaming operators will also help to revitalise some of Macau’s old districts, in a bid to attract more tourists to areas of the city not typically visited by trippers.
To benefit from the newly-announced referral scheme for cultural or sports projects, local associations can send their projects to the email addresses firstname.lastname@example.org for cultural activities, or email@example.com for sports activities. It is recommended that each proposal includes information such as the proposed date for the event, its location, and budget.
Associations play a very significant role in Macau’s community: a large number of cultural and sports events are either organised or supported by such bodies.
The city has thousands of associations, with the largest ones providing a comprehensive set of community services, from managing nurseries, schools and centres for the elderly, to providing healthcare services.
Associations also have an important lobbying role in Macau. Some seats in the city’s Legislative Assembly are reserved for representatives of different interest groups. The same happens with some seats in the committee that selects Macau’s Chief Executive.
A number of local associations have, in recent years, complained about a reduction in government support for their cultural and sports events. That coincided with a decline in government tax revenue amid the contraction in the city’s casino industry associated with travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to some associations, the decline in government support is also linked to changes in how government subsidies for cultural and sports activities are now granted, and increased red tape for application submission.
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