If there’s one thing that you don’t want to get into trouble with, it’s the law.
Especially when you’re in the public eye.
However, it seems like a local celebrity might be taking a completely different route in approaching this issue.
That celebrity is none other than actor Terence Cao, who recently stirred up quite a bit of controversy after a member of the public spotted him being an “ambassador of sorts” in multiple YouTube videos.
And while it seems like there’s nothing wrong with being an ambassador, the same can’t be said when the “ambassadorship” is for a gambling website.
Here’s what you need to know about the videos and what lawyers in Singapore think about the situation.
On Tuesday (10 January), reporters from Lianhe Zaobao found three gambling website videos with Cao in them after a reader alerted them to the presence of them.
In the videos, Cao, 55, played multiple roles and promoted the “joy” that comes with gambling in small amounts.
One of the videos lasted one minute and 40 seconds and included Cao acting as two different weeders. One of them mentioned that he lost $500 to gambling while the other tried to persuade him to stop.
However, the latter pulled out his mobile phone afterwards and said that he had won $50.
The website’s logo was also shown at the end, suggesting that the person who won money used the website to place his bets.
More About the Law Regarding Illegal Gambling in Singapore
According to the Gambling Control Act in Singapore, all unlicensed gambling activities are banned.
For the uninformed, the only company licensed to offer lottery and sports betting services in Singapore is Singapore Pools.
So yes, you might need to queue up for a horrifyingly long time at Singapore Pool outlets to place your bets, but at least it’s legal.
When interviewed by Zaobao, Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation and Senior Criminal Lawyer Tan Hee Joek explained that the website in the videos featuring Cao is considered to be an illegal gambling website.
Based on relevant laws and regulations, such websites are considered illegal gambling websites if they do not have any valid service licence. It is also illegal for individuals to assist in the advertisement or promotion of such websites.
Hence, Cao’s actions might be considered a breach of the Gambling Control Act.
Mr Tan added that this offence carries a maximum fine of $20,000.
After discovering his videos, Zaobao reporters contacted Cao via phone to ask him under what circumstances he participated in the filming of these videos and whether he was aware of the website’s context and background.
He responded by saying that a production company that he has never worked with before contacted him to be featured in the videos, and he added that he is unaware of the context and background of the website.
Cao then told the reporter to rewatch the videos clearly and claimed that the videos were advising people not to gamble before hanging up.
After that, the reporter clarified via text that the video did not say that. Instead, the message in the video was that gambling in small amounts “brings joy”.
The reporter also requested that he explain this issue further, but Cao did not respond to the messages after reading them.
He then became uncontactable afterwards when the reporter tried to call him again.
When the reporter accessed the website afterwards, the website was still functioning normally.
However, the reporter noted that the three videos featuring Cao had been removed from the website.
Police Report Filed, Investigations Ongoing
When responding to queries by Zaobao, the Singapore Police Force confirmed that it has since received a police report regarding the matter.
Investigations are ongoing.
Similarly, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) disclosed that it is also investigating this incident.
According to the GRA spokesperson, the GRA has the authority to shut down illegal gambling websites based on the Gambling Control Act.
Previous Controversies Involving Cao
And it seems like this isn’t the only controversy involving Cao in recent years.
In 2021, he was charged after he flouted COVID-19 restrictions by hosting a birthday party for himself and fellow actors Jeffery Xu and Shane Pow.
He invited a total of 12 people to his house when the maximum number of guests allowed per household at any time was five.
The incident came to light after a wefie of the group, which included other celebrities such as DJ Shane Danker, was posted by Xu on his public Instagram account.
As a result, Cao ended up being fined $3,500.
In February 2022, actor Xavier Ong took to social media to accuse Cao of being verbally abusive when the pair worked together in Sibay Shiok, a live-streaming company co-founded by Cao. Other founders of the company are fellow celebrities Vincent Ng, Shane Pow and Dawn Yeoh.
Ong also claimed that Cao owed him $13,000 in remuneration and said that Cao did not pay him his salary.
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Featured Image: YouTube + Facebook (Terence Cao 曹国辉)