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Christian Service News

Issue 33 (October 2001)

Topic : Opinion Feedback

Soccer Betting Should not be legalized

The government has released a consultation paper 'Public Consultation on Gambling Review'. One of the hot issues concerns about whether to legalize soccer betting in Hong Kong.

We strongly oppose legalizing soccer betting in Hong Kong in any forms.

The nature of soccer is a healthy sport. Playing soccer not only helps the players to enjoy a healthy life and a strong physical build up, it also facilitates the participants to learn and enjoy teamwork. In addition, it can also be a leisure activity enhancing family relationships. Thus, the government should put more resources in developing the sport, to build more football grounds, and to promote the healthy nature of soccer, instead of promoting this healthy sport as a gambling tool.

If soccer betting is legalized, it will convey a wrong message that gambling, in particular soccer betting, is a common, reasonable, and 'healthy' activity. This wrong message will in particular have a negative impact on children and youths. Such a policy of 'rationalization' of unreasonable conducts will only reinforce the already frustrating culture of chance taking, easy-money-making, and getting without paying among our youths. This is obviously destructive if Hong Kong is to become a 'Manhattan', centre of advanced information and scientific technology, and a world class tourist attraction, because all these require a solid groundwork of research and development. We see in no way such a 'short-cut culture' to be beneficial to these goals.

According to our recent study on problem gambling, it is found that problem gambling affects not only the gambler him/herself, but also affects the spouse and other family members. Other research also finds that children with gambling parents have a chance of 4.5 times more likely to be gamblers themselves when they enter adulthood. If soccer betting is legalized in Hong Kong, the government is in fact planting a seed of "gambling problem" into the family by which can be passed on generation by generation.

We urge the government for increased support on sports activities (including soccer), and to provide further resources for schools to educate students with a proper and healthy attitude towards soccer playing. Services for problem gamblers, further research in this area, and the organization of community education programs regarding public awareness on the ill effects of gambling is greatly needed.