The race is still for gambling dollars. But increasingly the rivalry between Macau casino operators is also for non-gaming endeavours and athletic prowess. As Manchester United's visit to the Venetian Macau nears, much of the discussion has centred on the responses by the other casino groups. Yesterday, Francis Lui Yiu-tung, executive director and deputy chairman of Galaxy Entertainment Group hinted his company wanted to become a stronger player on the sporting scene as Galaxy committed to another three-year sponsorship of the Macau International Marathon. Lui said he was not afraid of competition. 'If I worry about competition, I won't be in Macau,' he said. 'But we have confidence in ourselves. We will have our own programme to maximise our marketing effort.' As much as the marathon sponsorship, worth HK$3 million over three years, was about athletics, it was also about increasing the non-gaming profile of the casino group. Lui said the company was a responsible corporate citizen and future sponsorship plans had to fit within the company's strategy. Asked if Galaxy - which operates the Star World resort, four City Club casinos and the mega resort taking shape on the Cotai strip - would focus solely on Macau events or would attempt to broaden the horizons along the lines of Las Vegas Sands, Lui said: 'We're going to have a strategy where we're going to support local events such as this [marathon], but we will also be looking for international recognisable events so we can gain International exposure.' The Venetian Macau will sponsor the Venetian Macau Cup on July 23, featuring Manchester United and Shenzhen Xiangxue. In October, the resort hotel will feature the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers in two NBA exhibition games. As for the marathon, the Macau Sport Development Board (SDB) intends to use the funds to improve the race's overall quality and not necessarily the number of participants. 'I don't want to compare [our event] with the Hong Kong or Boston marathons,' said SDB vice-president Jose Tavares. 'We cannot run this kind of marathon because Macau cannot support those numbers of athletes. But I want to run a quality marathon. This is our main objective.' Tavares will target better and faster athletes in the hope of breaking the course records set in 1999 by Koreans Kim Jung-won (2:15:21) and Kim Chang-ok (2:34:57). SDB acting president Alex Vong Iao-lek said the agreement 'symbolises a new milestone of Macau sports development and creates more favourable conditions for the well-liked international event'. The 2007 edition will also be the event's 25-year anniversary.