END OF PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL IN SG ONCE JACKPOT MACHINES ARE NO MORE?

Dear Editor

I refer to the article “Tighter regulations for clubs with jackpot machines to guard against problem gambling” (Straits Times, Jul 21). It states that “The issue of whether rules for jackpot venues should be tightened came under the spotlight in April, after reports of Tiong Bahru Football Club’s $36.8 million annual takings last year from its 29 jackpot machines. This was more than the Football Association of Singapore’s budget in the same period.

Reports also revealed that several football clubs which have not played in the S-League for some years, including Tanjong Pagar United, Gombak United, Woodlands Wellington and Sinchi Football Club, continued running jackpot operations with a gross income ranging from $165,000 to $11.3 million. Those which do not meet the tighter criteria will have to stop operating such machines by April 30 next year.”

“Another nail in the coffin” for football?

These new rules may be like “another nail in the coffin” for some football clubs, as some have indicated funding problems which have led to the withdrawal of professional football teams. Since football in Singapore is already arguably in the doldrums – this may further retard the development of football in Singapore.

Assess “football” activities please?

As to “The assessment will be done by a permit officer, appointed by MHA, who will decide if clubs provide a “suitably wide range” of social and recreational facilities to members” – shouldn’t “football” activities be the primary criteria to assess football clubs?

Tote Board’s $4b accumulated surpluses – give some to football?

Since it is likely that the funding from jackpot machines may be cut from many football clubs – why not ask the Tote Board to give some of its accumulated surpluses of about $4 billion to the football clubs for the development of football in Singapore?

Leong Sze Hian

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