Changes to gambling ordinance cannot be realistically justified

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 May, 2002, 12:00am

The draconian amendments to the Gambling Ordinance come into effect tomorrow. Although they make the SAR Government and the Jockey Club the laughing stock of the real world, they are justified on the basis that they protect the public from the evils associated with betting which is not already part of our way of life.

This week, before it becomes a crime for us to bet on a soccer game played anywhere or on a horse race held anywhere but in Hong Kong, the Secretary for Home Affairs, Lam Woon-kwong, proposes introducing a 'sports lottery' so that the Government can make some money to help sports development here ('Lottery for sport 'not serious gambling,' ' South China Morning Post, May 28). He justifies it on the basis that it would not mean that people would lose their entire savings overnight. As a fall back he concedes that 'although a sports lottery is a kind of gambling, people would not treat it as a very serious betting activity'.

Those assertions can be likened to a robber telling a court in his defence that he didn't steal all that was available and that, in any event, he was only a little bit guilty.

Both of the Secretary's statements are so absurd as to require no rebuttal. What concerns me is the hypocrisy involved. When our Government has to resort to Third World-type statements to support unjustifiable legislation, we have reached a low which is unacceptable.