Grenade attack as Malaysian online gambling operators fight over agents

malaysia-grenade-attackA grenade attack on an illegal online gambling boss in downtown Kuala Lumpur has left one man dead and 12 others injured. At around 4:30am Wednesday morning, two grenades were tossed from a second floor window of a building in the Bukit Bintang entertainment district. The grenades landed in a crowd of people leaving the Cherry Blossom Night Club on the ground floor. The dead man was a valet parker at the club.

CCTV cameras caught two men tossing the grenades, which police said were more than 30 years old, probably why only one actually detonated and the other was eventually found under a Toyota Camry. The assassins, who have yet to be identified or apprehended, were reportedly attempting to kill a 53-year-old online gambling kingpin known as Ah Hai.

Officially, police have said that the attack was gang-related and possibly due to a turf war. A source told the Malay Mail that Ah Hai had made a power grab for other online bookies’ agents by offering higher commissions on gamblers’ losses. Ah Hai is a regular at the Cherry Blossom and was said to meeting with a number of agents the night of the attack.

Malaysia isn’t completely anti-gambling, permitting one giant resort casino at Genting Highlands and a smattering of ‘number forecasting operators’ such as Sports Toto and Magnum Bhd. But pretty much everything else will leave you liable for a good caning, as evidenced by the non-stop police roundup of online sports betting operators during this summer’s FIFA World Cup. Under these circumstances, agents are the operators’ primary source of customer acquisition and payment processing.

The grenade attack came just as Malaysia’s Home Minister is vowing to introduce key performance indicators to gauge how well police are faring in their efforts to combat illegal online gambling operations. The government wants to use the KPIs to (a) identify police branches that aren’t being sufficiently zealous in stamping out ‘cyber-gambling dens’ and (b) make personnel changes where necessary. Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also vowed to amend the country’s Common Gaming House Act and Lotteries Act, each of which is over sixty years old, and contains no reference to online activity.