What do people think of the NSW Community Development Fund, which was set up as a way of distributing unclaimed gambling prize money, being spent on a Jackie Chan movie?
One reader of OnlineCasinoSite.com tells us it’s a farce that a government body could spend close to $1 million dollars funding a Jackie Chan film, when the actor has hardly been a box office hit in recent times.
“We have so many more problems that we should be fixing, instead we’re spending money on bad movies,” the reader commented on a previous article.
Actor and producer Chan was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the scheme, with his 2017 flop, the sci-fi thriller Bleeding Steel, receiving a one-off direct grant of $850,000 from the NSW government to fund the movie.
The community development fund, managed by the Office of Responsible Gambling, is financed via unclaimed poker machine jackpot prizes and unclaimed gaming machine tickets.
The state law in NSW permits the government to use its discretion in determining what unclaimed pokies winnings be used for provided it benefits the community.
The Gaming Machines Act 2001, stipulates the money can be spent “for such community benefits as the Secretary considers appropriate.” This discretion is allocated to the Deputy Secretary within the Liquor, Gaming & Racing Division.
Bleeding Still was panned by critics and film fans alike, with it having just a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 5.2/10 on IMDB.
From 2014 to 2016, $3.34 million of the fund was granted to 52 projects, with a chunk of it going into local community projects like the building of new schools facilities, while 30 separate grants went into upgrading war memorials across regional NSW.
However, the 2016 $850,000 grant to the Chan movie remains the largest grant to a single project, and accounts for a quarter of the total fund.
A spokesperson for the Liquor and Gaming NSW, defended the decision saying the government “undertook a thorough cost-benefit analysis” and reached a decision that the film would deliver “significant short and long-term economic and tourism benefits, particularly from Asia”.
“The project directly injected over $20 million into the NSW economy and employed over 1100 staff, crew, cast and extras in NSW between May and September 2016,” the spokesperson added.
Greens MLC Justin Field, however, questioned the decision saying it was a “highly unusual use of the Community Development Fund”. He, therefore, quizzed why the request for production finance was not channelled through an application to Create NSW, the state government’s arts funding body.
“This fund is derived from unclaimed gambling winnings. It should be used for genuine community building projects or used to support victims of gambling harm,” Mr Field said.