Malaysia plans to revamp its archaic gambling laws to impose harsher penalties on illegal online gambling operators.
For years, Malaysian officials have complained that the country’s gambling laws needed a refresh to tackle new technological developments, including online gambling. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters he would raise the issue at this Friday’s meeting with cabinet ministers.
Zahid noted that the country’s various gambling laws were introduced long before the advent of the internet. Zahid said he would propose the establishment of a parliamentary caucus, which he himself would chair, to “look at each act to tackle the problem” of illegal gambling, particularly the online type.
Malaysia has been waging a long-running war with internet café operators who offer access to computers that connect to internationally licensed online gambling sites. Zahid said these operators were continually coming up with “different modus operandi, including abusing entertainment licenses by modifying their equipment and devices for online gambling.”
Zahid said he was open to revising existing legislation as well as introducing new acts to tackle the problem. Zahid said a chief plank of these legislative upgrades would be to provide “heavier penalties, both preventive and punitive.”
Zahid said he would look to enlist the support of international crime fighting organizations, including Interpol and ASEAN security agencies, because the online gambling operators’ servers were rarely based within Malaysia.
Malaysia is a deeply religious country that severely limits its citizens’ ability to wager. Local Muslims aren’t allowed in the country’s one licensed brick-and-mortar casino (Genting Highlands) while religious authorities frown on use of the three licensed ‘number forecasting’ operators – Magnum, Sports Toto and Pan Malaysian Pools – or the Royal Sabah Turf Club.