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Betting in Malaysia

Published on: 01/02/2016

Malaysia gained independence from British rule in 1957. The country is run by a federal government and is modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system, left over from the British Colonial years. In 2006, the Malaysian government changed the Betting Act of 1953 to outline gambling as troublesome and not in keeping with their views. As a result, Malaysian law strictly states that gambling is illegal, with all forms of gaming being prohibited.

There are exceptions to the rules, such as the Lotteries Act of 1952, which is managed by the Social and Welfare Services Lotteries Board, and is regulated by different laws. In addition, the Racing Act of 1961, permits pari-mutuel betting at recognised race tracks; and the Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953, allows the Minister of Finance to grant gaming licences to businesses who have registered under the companies Act of 1965.

As a result, the Genting Highlands is home to the world’s biggest casino; however gambling of this type in Malaysia is merely tolerated rather than revered. Islamic “Sharia” Law prohibits the Country’s Muslim population (60%) from gambling altogether. The Tote and casinos exist for the benefit of Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese citizens, as well as other races and visitors. The Casino de Genting is completely out of bounds for the local Muslims.

In 2010, the Malaysian government made it clear that no licences would be granted for sports betting. The Prime minister outlined that legalizing gambling activities would give the wrong impression and incur bad consequences with regards to politics and religion.

Because of the rigid regulations applied to gambling in Malaysia, underground betting activities have proliferated to the extent that the authorities have to carry out busts several times a week. The fight to stop Chinese Malaysian illegal gambling operations is proving difficult to control.

In addition to this problem, internet gambling has become readily available and popular amongst the citizens of Malaysia. Reports suggest that hundreds of foreign sportsbooks such as William Hill, Ladbrokes, Bet365, betfred and Paddy Power welcome business from the locals.

MasterCard and Visa credit cards obtained in Malaysia can be used on thousands of gambling web sites. Over one thousand NETeller-incorporated betting sites also provide services for Malaysian punters.

Malaysian citizens who are concerned about violating the gambling laws in their country have the option of travelling over the border into Singapore, where betting online is permitted as long as it’s not conducted within public areas. However, next-door Thailand monitors internet gambling activity and prohibits any betting online. A Malaysian newspaper (Mirror) has made it known that they are pro-gambling and are on the side of new gambling licences and new possibilities of sports betting. The newspapers view is that the Malaysian people should have the right to choose how they spend their money and that wagering on sportsbooks should be made legal.