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Casino-backed association eyes ‘responsible gaming’

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image ‘Every citizen in Macau, not just gamblers and casino workers, shares a responsibility and is a stake holder in the gaming industry’s present and future…’: Sung Wai Kit

A new association focussed on responsible gaming will be formally established today.
In a city that relies heavily on the casino industry, the Macau Responsible Gaming Association’s (MRGA) main goal is to promote the idea that cultivating a responsible attitude towards gaming is everybody’s responsibility.
The association will be formally established today, with the blessing of the powerful gaming industry, acknowledged organising committee member and liaison officer Sung Wai Kit.
The government and the industry have been working to tackle gambling problems, including providing counselling services for pathological gamblers, he told Macau Daily Times.
Therefore, MRGA sees an opening for a civil group to approach the issue with different strategies.
The association hopes to draw attention from other civil groups sharing the same objectives and interests. The University of Macau’s Institute for Study of Commercial Gaming is sending a representative to today’s ceremony.
And MRGA also hopes to work with other social groups such the Federation of Trade Unions, and the General Neighbourhood Association Unions, both of which have a large social network of members and resources.
MRGA has yet to draw up a comprehensive working plan but Sung said they would soon kick off a series of public education and promotion campaigns.
“Every citizen in Macau, not just gamblers and casino workers, shares a responsibility and is a stake holder in the gaming industry’s present and future, which has an important bearing not only on the city’s economic structure, but also the well-being of neighbouring cities”, Sung said.

Shuttle buses

That is also why the MRGA organising committee members come from a wide spectrum of social backgrounds, including public workers, businessmen, lawyers and postgraduate students, he added.
Responsible gaming is to achieve a more balanced economic structure, or diversification of the economy, to turn Macau into an international travel and leisure centre, as laid out in the country’s 12th Five Year Plan, Sung explained.
Sung strongly denied that responsible gaming means a negative impact on casino revenue, stressing that their works pose no threat to the gaming industry, which also shares MRGA values on corporate social responsibility.
The association has received very positive feedback and support from all major casinos, with some of them sending representatives to today’s ceremony. But there is no concrete plan for cooperation or joint initiatives with gaming operators yet.
MRGA raised concerns about the shuttle buses connecting casinos to the ports and city centre, saying that the large fleet of vehicles could cause a heavy burden on road traffic.
Sung said it’s time for the government to take a responsible attitude towards the issue by launching a thorough study and review. However, he was careful not to lay the blame directly on casinos.

S.C.

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