One third of Hong Kong parents have gambling habit, says survey - Monday 23rd of June 2008

One third of Hong Kong parents have a gambling habit and regularly bet on horse racing and soccer matches, a survey published Monday claimed. The survey, carried out by an education concern group, also found that two thirds of the 864 parents interviewed believed the gambling problem in the former British colony to be serious.

More than half feared their children would become gambling addicts.

Ho Hon-Kuen, vice chairman of Education Convergence which carried out the poll, blamed the problem on lavish advertising by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the only legal bookmaker in city of 6.9 million.

"The Jockey Club has been glorifying horse racing as a sports event," Ho told the South China Morning Post.

The group is urging the Broadcasting Authority to regulate advertisements concerned with gambling, in particular those by casinos in neighbouring Macau, the Las Vegas of the east.

The survey questioned 864 parents in May. It comes following a spate of incidents in which children have been left home alone while parents went gambling.

In March, a mother was put on probation after leaving her one-year-old daughter in the care of her sisters aged 11 and 15 to go on a six-day gambling spree.

In January, two Hong Kong single mothers - were sentenced to probation after admitting abandoning their children - in one case a 14-year-old boy and in the other girls aged 8 and 9 - for days on end to go gambling in Macau. The cases were unrelated.

The Jockey Clubs revenue from horse and football betting and lottery sales topped a record 100 billion Hong Kong dollars (12.82 billion US) last season amid rising concern over gambling in the territory.

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