Gambling Watch rails at 'fake consultation' Anti-betting activists walked out of a meeting with government advisers on gambling policy in protest against what they called 'fake consultation'. Four angry activists from Gambling Watch - a coalition of about 10 anti-gambling groups - left the conference room in the middle of the closed-door meeting. They claimed there was no 'genuine exchange of views' because each of those attending was only allowed about five minutes to present his views, and no follow-up questions were allowed. 'It is fake consultation. It is a waste of time,' said a coalition representative, Reverend Wu Chi-wai. 'We are very upset. The commission is unfair and we shall take the case to the Legislative Council.' At the centre of the saga is a new practice by the Jockey Club that allows children to attend daytime race meetings at Sha Tin racecourse. Anti-betting activists criticised the club for trying to 'lure young people into gambling' and claimed it was against government policy. But the club argued it was common for children to be admitted to racecourses, such as those in Japan, Britain and Australia. The row has been brewing since the practice was introduced last September, prompting a meeting yesterday by the Betting and Lotteries Commission for members to hear views of concern groups, and those of the club and the racing sector. The commission advises the Home Affairs Bureau on the government's gambling policy. Representatives from about 20 concern groups and individuals were at yesterday's session, held behind closed doors at the Sham Shui Po district council. Another Gambling Watch member, Choi Chi-sum, said the government lacked sincerity in listening to the public. 'The practice started last September. And not until now has the commission held a consultative meeting. It is just a show,' he said. After the meeting, which continued despite the walkout, Jockey Club executive director Kim Mak Kin-wah defended the practice of allowing children into race meetings. 'We are talking about children under adult supervision and they will not be allowed to go to areas with betting services. The issue raised by some concern groups may be due to misunderstanding.' He said the club had no plan to put the arrangement on hold. A club spokeswoman said yesterday the practice was done entirely from a sporting perspective, responding to requests from owners to allow their children to share the joy of seeing their family's horse compete. The club had so far not received any complaints from horse owners or racegoers, said the spokeswoman. Commission chairman Moses Cheng Mo-chi said the meeting was useful and members heard views from both sides. He discounted the protesting activists' claims and said they could still present their views in writing before June, when the commission was expected to meet again to discuss the issue.