SCMP Saturday, June 23, 2001

View from the stands


Secondary school pupil Chan Wai-yin, 16, said he would place bets if soccer gambling were legalised. "I watch almost all the football matches on TV. If we could bet while we watched, it would be much more fun." But he agreed legalisation could have a negative impact. "Though personally I want to bet, I know it may be no good for society in the long term."
Advertising salesman Kent Ma Kam-lit, 27, said he supported legalising soccer betting but did not bet. "If it is legalised the Government will have a proper channel to regulate gambling activities. I don't think the move will encourage gambling. A betting culture has always existed in Hong Kong. If we can allow horse-race betting, why not soccer betting?"
Secondary school student Cheung Man-man, 17, strongly opposed the legalisation. "Many of my friends bet on soccer matches. They gamble hundreds of dollars on each match. I think soccer betting is too risky." Legalisation would only encourage greater levels of gambling, she said. "Now many under-aged students are betting secretly. But if it is legalised, they will be more addicted."
Trader Chan Chi-shing, 60, supported legalisation. "The bet which used to go to bookmakers will benefit the Government, generating new revenue for the public coffers." He said that in the 1970s, the advent of the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club eliminated bookmakers. "I think it will also be a success this time. I won't mind if my sons bet as long as the gambling outlet is legal."
Public relations officer Li Chui-wan, 21, said legalisation would show respect for human rights. "I think it is football fans' choice to bet on matches. Those who do not agree with gambling have the freedom not to bet. The public should not consider the issue from an ethical point of view. Many friends of mine bet. I don't think it's a problem."
Housewife Cheong Lai-chan, 46, opposed soccer betting. "Football is a healthy sport, but if people gamble on it, they are destroying its spirit. I'm afraid more people will get addicted to gambling after soccer betting is legalised. I am sure I will teach my children not to gamble, whether the Government authorises it or not."