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Cheryl Faith Wee
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014

Sports

Concern over Pool's ad

The Straits Times | Cheryl Faith Wee | Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014

Crowd at Singapore Pools outlet, just before closing time.

A Singapore Pools television commercial linked to World Cup matches has raised concerns that it encourages gambling.

The 10-second advertisement airs before the live telecasts of games and during half-time.

It reminds viewers to "stay legal" with Singapore Pools, tells them about a $1 million lucky draw and directs people to the Singapore Pools website.

Some viewers feel that the ad could be too tempting for young people, and those who have a gambling problem.

Said Ms Deborah Queck, executive director of Blessed Grace Social Services which runs the Gamblers Recovery Centre: "Football fever is high at the moment and people can get caught up in the excitement.

"It is not very beneficial to have a commercial like this. It can trigger betting."

Some parents have similar concerns that such advertisements may encourage young people to place bets.

Ms Linda New, a financial consultant in her 40s, has two sons aged 17 and 18, who both watch the live telecasts.

She said: "Advertisements like this send mixed messages to viewers. Betting legally and illegally are both not good.

At 18 years old, my son wants to try out new things so it is not a good idea for the advertisement to be aired."

Added Mr Dick Lum, executive director of One Hope Centre, a welfare organisation which helps people with problem gambling: "A pocket of people might be affected by such advertisements.

"It tells people that it is okay to gamble responsibly.

"It could be a trigger for people who are trying hard to kick the habit."

Singapore Pools is accepting bets for the World Cup and showing the matches live at four of its outlets.

When contacted, a spokesman said: "The purpose of our television commercial is to inform viewers who wish to have a little flutter during the World Cup season, to stay legal with Singapore Pools, instead of resorting to betting with illegal or online operators."

He added that the commercials are not aired during the repeat telecasts of the matches at prime-time, when underaged viewers are likely to be watching.

A person has to be at least 18 years old to place bets with Singapore Pools, and at least 21 to do phone betting.

According to the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore, the Singapore Pools' television commercial had been approved by the authorities.

During the last World Cup, Singapore Pools aired a television commercial reminding people to know their limits and to bet responsibly.


This article was first published on JUNE 23, 2014.
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