SINGAPORE – Local actor Terence Cao’s involvement in the filming of three videos for an illegal gambling website has caused controversy, with lawyers saying that he might have committed an offence in promoting the portal.
Following a tip-off by readers, Lianhe Zaobao found on Tuesday that three short videos featuring the 55-year-old had been uploaded on the website. The first lasted 1min 55sec, the second 2min 11sec, and the third 1min 48sec.
According to the Chinese daily, Cao played multiple personas in the clips, promoting the joys of “small gambles”.
In one video, the Singaporean portrayed two characters – one had lost $500 to gambling, while the other had won $50. At the end of the clip, the website’s logo can be seen, suggesting the person had won money after he made a bet with it.
The police confirm that a report has been lodged and investigations are ongoing.
A Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) spokesman said it has completed its review into the matter, and directed the Infocomm Media Development Authority to order Internet service providers to disable access to the website.
As of Friday, access has been disabled, the spokesman added.
The Straits Times tried contacting Cao on Friday but he did not answer calls or reply to a message seeking further comment. ST also tried to access the videos and the website on Friday, but they were no longer available.
Criminal defence lawyer Cory Wong, 33, from Invictus Law Corporation, said Cao may have advertised unlawful gambling, which is an offence under the Gambling Control Act.
Singapore Pools is the only licensed operator offering lotteries and sports betting services here.
Mr Wong said that if the website does not have a valid gambling service licence, it will be classified as enabling a form of unlawful gambling – and whoever advertises, or assists to promote, this website will be breaking the law.
These regulations will apply to websites based overseas but available to users in Singapore, or websites based here but targeting overseas users, he added.
According to the GRA website, all forms of advertising and promotion relating to licensed gambling are prohibited unless otherwise approved by it. It is an offence to advertise unlawful gambling in or from Singapore or from outside the Republic to persons in Singapore.
If found guilty, an individual can be fined up to $20,000.
When a Lianhe Zaobao reporter called Cao earlier this week to ask about the circumstances under which he participated in the filming of the videos, he said he had been approached by a production company that he had never cooperated with before, and was not aware of the website’s background.
“This is to tell people not to gamble,” Cao added, before hanging up.
The reporter subsequently messaged Cao, saying the video is not advising people not to gamble but that “small” gambling is fun. The reporter asked if Cao could explain further but did not get a reply.
The reporter tried calling again but could not reach Cao, who unlawfully hosted 12 guests at his home in October 2020 amid the Covid-19 outbreak. He was fined $3,500 in May 2021.
One organisation that collaborates frequently with Cao is luxury retailer Lovelotsluxury. Its co-founder, Mr Peter Ang, said it has worked with him for almost a year, and is impressed with his work ethic and professionalism.
Mr Ang added: “We have no comment with regard to this incident. As for future collaborations, they are still in the pipeline.”