SCMP Saturday, June 23, 2001

Two main parties vow to fight any law


Opposition to soccer betting remains strong in Legco, with the two major voting blocs vowing to fight any move towards legalisation.
The Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong said yesterday they remained unconvinced that legalisation would be beneficial to society.
The Liberal Party stopped short of giving explicit support for legalisation, calling instead for a debate on the issue.
Democrat Andrew Cheng Kar-foo warned that legalisation might open the door to other forms of gambling. "There are authorised gambling outlets. It's unnecessary to expand them to turn Hong Kong into a gambling city," he said.
DAB chairman Tsang Yok-sing said his party would not support legalised soccer betting. He said it would bring more trouble than benefits, adding that legalisation could not effectively end illegal offshore bookmaking.
"Football is a very popular sport in Hong Kong, especially among young people. Soccer betting would make gambling more prevalent. It wouldn't be beneficial to society," he said.
Liberal Party vice-chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said she agreed that it was necessary to come up with measures to regulate soccer gambling ahead of the World Cup finals next year.
"Although the community has strong views against soccer gambling, people should assess the overall impact on society once it becomes legalised," she said.
The Democrats and DAB command 22 of the 60 votes in Legco, while the Liberals hold eight.
Independent member Eric Li Ka-cheung described legalisation as a last resort if there were no better way to tackle the problem of illegal soccer betting.