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Amid public concern over how soccer betting pools may influence Japan’s youth, the Diet passed a revised bill Tuesday allowing a soccer lottery to raise funds for sports activities.

During a plenary session of the 500-member Lower House, 346 voted for the bill and 114 voted against it. The vote culminated six years of campaigning by a nonpartisan group of non-Communist lawmakers.

Reflecting its controversial nature, however, a number of lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition camps voted against it. The bill’s main supporters are members of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Liberal Party.

Under the system, to be launched in 2000, lottery tickets for J. League matches will be sold in units of 100 yen and the maximum return will be around 100 million yen. Those under age 19 will be prohibited from buying tickets.

A request from the Japan Olympic Committee and the Japan Amateur Sports Association prompted some lawmakers to begin promoting the bill in 1992. The associations have complained that Japan has not spent a sufficient amount of public money on promoting sports, resulting in relatively poor performances by Japanese athletes in international competitions.

However, a number of other organizations opposed the legislation and say the lottery system will adversely affect youngsters. Organizations opposing the legislation include the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, the National Federation of Regional Women’s Organizations and parents and teachers associations.

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