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Rebooted anti-gambling ad aims to save Singapore's blushes

By Euan McKirdy, CNN
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1313 GMT (2113 HKT)
A screenshot of the National Council on Problem Gambling's website shows the organization's new ad.
A screenshot of the National Council on Problem Gambling's website shows the organization's new ad.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Original ad campaign, which inadvertently predicted Germany win, provokes worldwide mocking
  • Updated poster shows ongoing nature of problem gambling
  • New legislation in 2006 liberalized the Asian city's gaming laws

(CNN) -- Singapore's National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has been forced to revise a World Cup-themed ad campaign after it appeared to score an own goal with its latest message.

The ad, which was on seen on TV and on local buses, featured a crestfallen boy named Andy expressing his hope that Germany would win football's biggest tournament after his father placed all his savings on that result -- which of course, they did.

The jokes started to spill out across the world following Germany's remarkable 7-1 victory over hosts Brazil in the semifinal.

"Cheer up kid, your dad bet on Germany! He's so rich, you don't even need to go to college any more!" quipped Jimmy Fallon, host of "The Tonight Show."

Reply

But the quick-thinking NCPG has used the attention -- including from U.S. late night talk show hosts -- to counter with another advertisement, this time highlighting the ongoing nature of problem gambling.

The followup ad has one of Andy's friends asking, "Your dad's team won. Did you get your savings back?" to which Andy replies, "No, dad never stops... he wants to bet one more time."

The plaintive conversation is followed up with the line, "Often, the people who suffer from problem gambling aren't the gamblers."

Prior to the rejig, the NCPG defended the campaign: "At the end of the day, win or lose, the dangers of problem gambling, and the potential anxiety and pain that loved ones go through remain unchanged," a statement read.

The organization did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

Singapore has somewhat of a love-hate relationship with betting. Problem gambling is an issue in Singapore, as are the related debts owed to loan sharks.

Some of the city-state's more unscrupulous citizens are often implicated with global match-fixing scandals, and Singapore has led crackdowns on ringleaders, including Dan Tan, a Singaporean who is currently being held in indefinite detention.

In addition, 15 people were arrested last month for allegedly receiving illegal football bets equivalent to US$640,000, police said.

However, despite the societal impact that gambling has, Singapore revised its laws in 2006 to liberalize gaming in the city, a move that has brought international operators to Singapore and made it one Asia's casino hubs.

The NCPG campaign -- now updated to reflect the father's voracious gambling habits -- will run until July 23.

World's hottest new cocktail city: Singapore

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