Elephants play soccer to bring light on illegal gambling

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NBC News (NBC) - A team of elephants played a game of soccer with students in Thailand.

The purpose of the match was to highlight the dangers of illegal gambling in the run-up to the World Cup.

Nine elephants, painted with the flags of countries competing in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, faced off against students from a local school.

Elephants may not be naturals at soccer. But their size made them tricky opponents.

They ended up winning the game two to one.

Organizers said they wanted to show students the world cup is more about enjoying the sport than betting on teams.

Illegal gambling on the world cup is common in counties like Thailand and Malaysia, where soccer is hugely popular, but don't allow legal betting.

Betting or promoting gambling on soccer is a crime in Thailand, but those who get caught often face only a small fine of about $30.

If children are involved, their parents can face a $300 fine or three months in jail.