Legislator dismisses the $5m campaign as just a Jockey Club PR exercise A government website has been launched to encourage young people to see soccer as a leisure activity - not an opportunity for gambling. The Hong Kong Education City site - Power of the New Generation - aims to teach young people about self-control, perseverance and the importance of exercise. Different scenarios are narrated by pop idols including Joey Yung Cho-yee and Nicholas Tse Ting-fung. 'The main thing is to encourage young people to take up hobbies [other than soccer gambling],' an Education City spokeswoman said. The two-year, $5 million campaign funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club is part of the Home Affairs Department's push to discourage the young from gambling after the legalisation of soccer betting last month. But the legislator representing the education sector, Cheung Man-kwong, said the campaign was more a public relations effort than a real cure for the potential boom in gambling among adolescents. 'I think the effectiveness of these education campaigns is very low,' he said. 'The media has a bigger impact. Flip through any newspaper and you'll see a lot of soccer- gambling information on the sports pages. 'But the Jockey Club has to do this so it can say it did something, that it had sent out healthy messages. The problem is that most young people won't see the website. What they see are newspapers that teach them how to win a soccer bet.' The website uses a cartoon-style format to tell four stories, each of which has three episodes. One is about a young gambler who decides to change for the better after seeing an old man who lost his wife and children because of his addiction. Another is about a girl who realises the importance of friendship over idol-worshipping after her friends get hurt in the hunt for her idol. Along with the website, Education City also promotes basketball-training programmes and other sports activities. Youths can sign on for these programmes on the site. Apart from youth education, the Home Affairs Department has selected two organisations to open counselling centres for pathological gamblers next month. Research will be conducted on gambling behaviour. Mr Cheung, who is also president of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, said the union would conduct surveys to gauge how young people had been affected by the legalisation of soccer betting. His worry is that the prevalence of soccer-betting tips and information in the media might encourage them to bet on matches among themselves or through illegal bookmakers.