Police report filed after local actor Henry Thia appears in ad promoting gambling site

Henry Thia's agency said that the actor had not intended to promote illegal gambling, and that he had been duped into doing so. PHOTO: KING KONG MEDIA PRODUCTION

SINGAPORE – A police report has been made after local actor Henry Thia appeared in a YouTube ad that promoted a gambling platform.

His agency, King Kong Media Production, said in a statement on Saturday that Thia was duped and had not intended to promote illegal gambling.

“In the middle of 2022, the company received an invitation from an advertising company in Malaysia to get Henry Thia on board to promote a live-streaming platform,” it said.

Before it made any agreements, King Kong Media Production said it asked about the nature of the live-streaming platform, in an effort to ensure that it did not promote any illegal activities.

A clause was added in the contract to specify this, it added.

The 71-year-old actor, affectionately known to fans as Hui Ge, was accompanied by his agent throughout the filming process, which took place in Malaysia, and everything seemed fine, the agency said.

The advertising company even sent his agency a copy of the final ad before it was run.

“However, the uploaded video is not our company’s approved version. The video had been edited to include parts on illegal gambling in the final 10 seconds.”

The agency said it has hired a Malaysian lawyer and will be taking legal action against the advertising company and the live-streaming platform.

The 56-second ad had started off innocuously, showing Thia using his phone before stumbling upon the live-streaming app, which he later downloaded.

It was only in the final 10 seconds that a message promoting illegal gambling can be seen on the app’s interface, which Thia had shown to the camera.

In an interview with Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News, local actor Mark Lee, who is the founder of King Kong Media Production, said it was his fault for not doing stringent enough checks on the live-streaming platform.

Thia told Shin Min that he would not have done something that broke the law.

“I know about the perils of gambling, and I often warn others on Facebook not to get involved in the habit,” he said.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Gambling Regulatory Authority said it is aware of this incident, and is working with the police on follow-up actions. Investigations are ongoing.

In January, another local actor, Terence Cao, got into hot water after his involvement in the filming of three videos for an illegal gambling website. A police report was lodged in that instance.

Terence Cao got into hot water in January after his involvement in the filming of three videos for an illegal gambling website. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

Under the Gambling Control Act, which took effect on Aug 1, 2022, all gambling activities in Singapore are prohibited unless they are licensed, class-licensed or exempted.

Only Singapore Pools is licensed to provide lotteries and sports betting services here.

Individuals found to have placed bets with an unlicensed service provider can be jailed for up to six months or fined up to $10,000, or both.

Advertising for unlawful gambling also counts as an offence, with individuals found to have done so facing a fine of up to $20,000.

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