Race club underage lottery under fire

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition demanding the Jockey Club drop plans to sell sweepstake tickets to people under 18 to mark the millennium.

A total of 250,000 sweepstake tickets will hit the street today at convenience stores, supermarkets, MTR stations and banks.

The Society for Truth and Light, a voluntary organisation of social workers and teachers, yesterday mounted a signature campaign against the sales, which they say will encourage young people to gamble.

They collected 7,267 signatures in three hours in Mongkok and Fortress Hill.

'The Jockey Club just repackages the sweepstake by coining it as a millennium celebration but in fact it is toxic candy,' general secretary Choi Chi-sum said.

The society urged the club to confine sales to adults.

It will hand the petition to the Home Affairs Bureau, which it has criticised for failing to consult the public before allowing the sale.

Secretary for Home Affairs David Lan Hong-tsung denied the sweepstake would promote gambling.

'It's not like having children selling sweepstake tickets,' he said.

The winner will pick up gold worth $20 million.