🎰 The Impact of Macao’s Gaming Industry on Family Life

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HONG KONG: Macau's leader Ho Iat Seng said on Monday (Apr 20) that the world's biggest gambling hub was too dependent on the casino.


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However, the gambling industry in Macau has recently been affected by significant growth in recent years, more than making up for this loss.


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Past generations have emphasised ren W, humanness and yi W, righteousness , good education and respect for life as central to the moral education of the young. Both these groups still adhered to traditional Chinese customs and cultural heritage, with the former showing more acculturation, either with or without strong ties to their families of origin on the mainland. Having lost its traditional commercial relevance and confronted with the economic and social decline that went along with promising inhabitants emigrating to Hong Kong and elsewhere in search of better opportunities, the administrators of Macao saw their livelihoods deeply threatened and they had to find some other sources of internal revenue. In this regard, young girls are imported to work in the sex trade, while large tourist groups visit the territory on a regular basis mostly to participate in gambling but also to enjoy the historical sites and heritage of Macao. In , the total public revenue amounted to The economic growth and wealth that the industry has brought to the community, has created numerous employment opportunities and the Statistic and Census Services DSEC report that unemployment has decreased from 6. We did not at all look into attitudes, habits and behaviour patterns of individuals or families directly involved in gambling itself. It also seems that communication and collaboration among most of the service providers are neither well developed nor organised. It had never been viewed as a real colony by Portugal and in a sense it has only ever been a territory administered in order to reap maximum profits. The latter retired from the partnership in , thus allowing Stanley Ho to become the only casino magnate in the territory until the end of the franchise on December 31st Transportation between Hong Kong and Macao was modernised by introducing highly efficient and fast hovercraft jetfoils, which had the direct result of enabling Stanley Ho to consolidate the casino industry in the Portuguese enclave. We also do not negate the fact that some social and family issues could have existed in Macao for a long time and could possibly not be attributed, either in the past or now, to the gaming industry per se. Psychological services would focus on the promotion of coping abilities and the development of adaptive and protective processes both for individuals and environments so as to increase or enhance the capacities for sustained psychological well-being. Although not unique to the gaming industry e. The data collected for this project focused mostly on the first three groups of families with Macanese and Chinese heritage, who constituted the largest proportion of the Macao population, with approximately 9. This is a matter of particular concern and indicates that Macao is, to an extent, wanting in terms of mental health care services. The audio recordings were transcribed and translated to provide textual data for analysis Family profiles in the form of three-generation genograms were used to provide information regarding the family structure and family history, and the impact of this history on present and probable future patterns Enabling and Disabling Processes of the Gaming Industry. Overall the aim is to gain an in-depth understanding of the context and needs of the local community in order to appropriately provide psychological services and to develop models for effective intervention strategies for the Macao community 2. The intention was to gain an in-depth understanding of the present situation is Macao in which the gaming industry poses both direct and indirect benefits and challenges to the well-being of local residents. We report here on the first phase of the project and on some of the many enabling and disabling processes having an impact on the well-being of the local population. This was emphasised further when Hong Kong banned gambling in Gaming contracts were granted to only a handful of figureheads linked to each other in a complex network of associations, fierce competition and backstabbing. Altogether with SJM Sociedade de Jogos de Macau , an affiliate of the former monopoly-holder STDM, the three licensed operators, joined by a few big players, such as MGM, Kerry Packer and Galaxy through joint-ventures, have announced frenzied investments and gigantic casino and hotel developments and projects that are under construction on Macao peninsula and on Cotai, a strip of reclaimed land between the islands of Taipa and Coloane. For last October indeed, with the National Day week-long holiday, the Statistics and Census Service indicated that the total number of visitor arrivals reached 1,,, up In the first ten months of , visitor arrivals totalled 15,,, up The majority of visitors come from mainland China Given that the territory comprises only approximately 27 square kilometres, this influx of tourists to the casinos and other facilities create a very definite over-crowdedness not only on the streets of Macao, but in every corner of this small enclave. In order to enhance the psychological well-being of a community, it is necessary to focus on preventive interventions that would decrease risk processes that can contribute to the development of psychological problems and pathologies Risk processes are those features that reduce the biological, psychological and social capacities of individuals and environments in order to maintain a healthy and well-balanced society. In order to survive, Macao needed to specialise in activities neither Hong Kong nor any nearby port city like Canton could offer, and in Macao started, amongst other endeavours, the coolie trade After this trade was prohibited in Hong Kong, Macao became all the more involved and it was mostly subsidised by British, American and Chinese capital, until the Portuguese Crown, under public pressure, prohibited it in Today mahjong is regularly played by local residents at family gatherings and with friends. Hence relationships emerge within the family and between the family and social environment that influence individual development and functioning. When the family then reunited after a period of separation, relationship problems often ensued that made living together again stressful. It is estimated that approximately 1 million people visit the territory each month, with PRC national holidays allowing this figure to rise to almost 1. Adding to the challenge is the lack of providers of psychological services, and a common established practice of loading mental health work tasks onto clergy staff, social workers and health care workers at best. Families often function according to a particular structure, and role appropriation for the different members of the family system develops. As a complex emotional unit the family is primarily a living, ongoing entity that is organised as a whole system with its members in continuous interaction and forming relationship patterns that extend over time and space. The interviews were recorded on audio tape with the consent of the interviewees obtained prior to the interview session. Sources of personal meaning influence coping strategies for stress, while strong religious beliefs, group membership, values, clear goals and dedication to a cause further indicates the extent to which the demands of life are seen as worthy of investment and engagement. Up to the mid-nineteenth century, Macao served as a trading post in the lucrative sea trade Portugal had engaged in with Japan, the Philippines, China, Malaysia, India and Europe. Action research and a key informant approach were the basic methodology for this study, and semi-structured interviews were conducted to gain an understanding of the enabling and disabling processes in family life through the impact of the gaming industry. The number of casinos increased from 11 in to 17 in the third quarter of and Macao has already become the second largest gaming city in the world, behind Las Vegas in the United States. The gaming industry, the major of source of employment and revenue in the territory, involves hidden factors compared to other industries in the region and inevitably captures the interest of researchers in psychological and sociological topics. The current knowledge base mainly relies on studies conducted in Hong Kong, and about Chinese expatriates living outside Macao. Macanese families reflected a mixed-race heritage with Portuguese and Chinese the dominant cultures, and customs that were particular to Macao. Chinese families manifested in two distinct groups with families who migrated to Macao and have been living there for at least three generations in one group, and newer Chinese individuals and families who have migrated to the enclave since the handover to the PRC in and are considered as first generation authorised residents of Macao in the second group. The purpose is to describe the present situation with regard to family life in Macao focusing in particular on the impact of the gaming industry on family and the respective sub-systems parents and children. From a psychological point of view, having and spending time with one another is one of the basic premises for establishing attachment relationships between family members and for parents to engage in the moral and cultural education of their children.{/INSERTKEYS}{/PARAGRAPH} Because these informants worked directly with the community and regularly interacted with the families in Macao, they were considered as having a particular insight into the situation in the community. Four themes emerged—family functioning, relationships, child care and psycho-social issues in the family. In the analysis we focused on the gaming industry in terms of the institutionalisation and legitimisation of gambling as an economic growth entity. An average The fourth group of families were mixed: some families were of Portuguese background maintaining strong ties with their country and culture of origin, some expatriate families from around the world, and a fair community of families originating from other Asian countries in the region e. The encounter and exchange that occurred in Macao have given the territory its blend of cultural and historical heritage 16 , which uniqueness has been asserted by UNESCO Since then, the newborn British colony dominated the maritime trade and provided a base for businesses that Macao had never dreamt of or managed to develop. It describes the present situation with regard to the ways in which the gaming industry affects family life and challenges the psychological well-being of the residents of Macao. In August , an independent group of researchers with government funding conducted a large-scale study on the Quality of Life in Macao covering several dimensions related to how the local population perceive and experience the socio-economic structures of their daily lives 3. The lack of psychological baseline knowledge and the mental health service delivery system, only in its infancy, are thus an important backdrop against which the larger study was conducted. The family can in fact be an obstacle to psychological well-being, particularly when the family system faces change to its core values or when a change in the functioning of one person predictably elicits change in the functioning of others. When people have to go to work they will have to leave their children at home. Recently it was also announced that education for all children would be free of charge up to completion of secondary school Legal immigrants and people authorised to permanently reside in Macao contributed to a rise of 7. Furthermore, the industry not only supports casinos, but also a variety of subsidiary business endeavours. Research into the concept of the purpose and meaning of life involves the well-being of individuals and groups in different contexts such as the workplace, explorations regarding the cultural values of happiness, and more recently, psychofortology 9. Recent figures show the Macao government supports approximately 89 social workers for the population of about , people 4. Figures for social workers in non-government organisations and psychologists are not available. Such an aim for harmonious living cannot be faulted in itself and it combines well with the traditional Chinese values of collectivism and moral qualities of loyalty and faithfulness. The increase in revenue gained from gambling taxes has made it possible for the Legislator to continue granting more subsidies to social services and families in general benefiting from the boom in the gaming industry. Whereas the enabling and disabling processes regarding family life had been noticeable for a long time, most likely since the start of the Portuguese administration of the territory and, related to various industries, the rapid growth of the gaming industry in recent years has exacerbated these issues to some extent. The area will feature not only casinos and hotels 10, rooms in total but also conference facilities on a grand scale and is expected to employ , staff. Textual data were analysed qualitatively for four dimensions. We rather focused the analysis on particular enabling and disabling processes pertaining to psycho-social relationship and behavioural issues related to the perceived impact of the gaming industry on individuals and family life in Macao. However, in the context of the prohibition under the imperial regime and later added to by the surge of anti-gambling sentiments of the Chinese authorities in the late nineteenth century, the very monopolies granted to gambling legalised gambling in Macao and launched the Portuguese territory as a gambling enclave. Whereas a lack of meaning in life could be associated with psychopathology 10 , some authors 11 indicate that purpose in and meaning of life constitutes critical components of mental health with an emphasis on a sense of directedness and intentionality. Although the Macanese families reflected a unique mix in their cultural heritage, all the family systems reflected strong macro-level beliefs about the values of family life, harmonious living and filial piety. Until the s they managed to secure the monopoly for themselves, and during the Tai Xing Co. Although not the only influence, it seems the gaming industry does indeed affect the family unit and the psychological well-being of individuals and groups both directly and indirectly 1. A concern was, however, uttered by the interviewees in our project. Thus, as we can see, the gaming monopoly, designed to keep the colonial administration afloat in the mid-nineteenth century, has by far exceeded all expectations. Many people were able to find jobs in Macao either as croupiers in the casinos or in subsidiary sectors of the industry including professional services e. At present mental health care services are mostly provided by social workers and access to psychological services is limited to visiting professionals from Hong Kong and a few partly trained psychological assistants counsellors and paraprofessionals. In the latter group the general trend was also for more women to leave their family of origin and come to Macao either with or without her children to find employment. The majority of researchers who study the psychological aspects of Chinese culture and ethnicity pay little or no attention to the uniqueness of the psycho-social situation and related needs in Macao. Many young people are lured into working in the industry for salaries that sometimes exceed that of peer graduates in the government and private sectors. The key informant approach allowed us to conduct semi-structured focus-group and individual interviews 27 with individuals considered knowledgeable about the community, the residents and their needs e. Through engagement with the gaming industry, however, the younger generation have been encouraged to become involved in hedonistic behaviour patterns and a drive towards individualist needs and materialism. This conceptualisation of happiness relates to what is implied by psychological well-being as a complex set of behaviours, thoughts, feelings and relationships that underlie the overall physical and socio-emotional wellness of people in a community. The availability of work opportunities in Macao, either in the casinos or elsewhere, often implied separation from family members when one partner moved to the SAR while the rest of the family still resided on the mainland. {PARAGRAPH}{INSERTKEYS}The purpose of this article is to present a comprehensive situation analysis and an assessment of the needs of the people of Macao in terms of their psychological well-being. In a society where traditional male and female roles were still dominant and gender stereotypes of the father as breadwinner and disciplinarian and the mother as taking care of nurturing needs still strictly adhered to, the ongoing changing work shift schedules could easily disrupt family life Role reversal challenged personal and cultural beliefs, while the absence of a role in the family e. Much has been written on gambling behaviour and more will most likely follow. There is for example a tendency amongst young people to forfeit furthering their education, both school and tertiary education, because of lucrative job opportunities in casinos, while parents who work in the industry typically have ongoing changing work shift schedules that easily disrupt their family life. Our focal point was nonetheless on describing, from a psychological perspective the perceptions and viewpoints of leaders in the community regarding the present ways in which the gaming industry affected family life and the psychological well-being of the people of Macao. Frameworks for mental health care services should be developed aimed at providing interventions that would answer to the needs of the local population and that are accessible to all members of the community, children, adolescents and adults In fact, this has been so only for the past years and it took time to convert the Chinese passion for gambling into the big business that the gaming industry has become.