Officials have been accused of manipulating public opinion in a renewed attempt to push ahead with legalised soccer betting. The Christian Anti-Soccer Gambling Alliance said the Government had been 'repackaging' its contentious proposal in the hope of winning public support. The group was referring to Chinese-language press reports quoting government sources as saying the term 'legalisation' would be watered down to 'regulation'. An unnamed official was also quoted as saying that people had become more supportive of making use of tax revenue from soccer betting to ease the deficit. The Reverend Wu Chi-wai, who leads an alliance of nine Christian groups, claimed officials were taking advantage of the deficit problems to win support for football gambling. 'The Government is trying to pave the way by repackaging the proposal. It's manipulating public opinion and confusing the people,' Mr Wu said. 'Officials are dragging their feet and will try to rush it through when opposition thins out.' He warned that legalisation would not stop illegal bookmaking and would encourage more people to bet. The alliance plans to urge lawmakers to reject the proposal in a petition on Monday, when Legco meets to scrutinise the budget details. The Home Affairs Bureau said it had never used the term 'legalisation' when consulting the public on soccer betting. 'All along we have been saying whether we should provide regulated outlets for soccer betting,' a spokeswoman said. She reiterated there was no plan to make any decision before the World Cup, starting in May. Ip Kwok-him, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, agreed the Government had been shaping people's views. While maintaining his party was still opposed to soccer betting, the legislator conceded the community appeared to be more supportive after being alerted to the deficit problem. 'Public opinion definitely has an impact on our position. We will monitor the situation closely,' Mr Ip said.