Authorities in Malaysia are stepping up the fight against the growing number of illegal electronic gambling centers that they say have sprouted in the country.
Last week, police busted eight gambling centers operating under the guise of clubs that promoted sports like pool, snooker and soft darts in Kuala Lumpur’s Cheras district. Authorities seized gambling machines worth RM500,000 (USD112,599) from the clubs, local news outlets reported.
In an interview with Malay Mail, City Hall enforcement director Abdul Salim Mansor said they have conducted 517 raids since last October, noting that “this was the department’s first raid for this year.”
The “mushrooming” number illegal gambling activities in the country has also prompted the Federal Territories Ministry, which oversees the administration and development of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya territories, to “enforce stricter rules.”
Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor told reporters the ministry “has since this month stopped issuing such licenses” because they “want to see a reduction in the number of illegal gambling facilities.”
“We are no longer issuing licenses for entertainment outlets, so if such outlets claim they are licensed to operate, it’s not true,” Tengku Adnan said, according to the report. “We do not want to issue these licenses because they will only be used to mask illegal activities.”
Authorities are also keeping a close watch on cyber cafes, which they say also double as illegal electronic gaming houses.
“Cyber cafes are only allowed to operate on ground floors or inside shopping malls. No more two-storey cyber cafes,” Tengku Adnan said. “They are also prohibited from having dark, tinted windows so people on the outside can see activities taking place within.”
Malaysia is a deeply religious country that limits its citizens’ ability to wager. Local Muslims aren’t allowed in the country’s sole licensed casino—Genting Highlands—while religious authorities frown on the use of the three licensed number forecasting operators.
Last year, the Malaysian government announced that it will seek to revamp the country’s gambling laws, which were introduced long before the advent of the Internet, to allow for harsher penalties for illegal gambling operators, with a particular eye towards online operators.