Since the beginning of the year, police in Malaysia have raided a number of illegal gambling operations. The result has been the arrest of over 14,700 individuals and the seizure of more than $917,757. The country is concerned that it is facing an illegal gambling epidemic and wants to stop the activity before it gets worse. In order to do so, lawmakers are going to take a closer look at gambling laws and update the “obsolete” gambling framework.
The idea is to bring gambling legislation into the current century—most were written during the 1950s and 1960s. Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia’s Home Minister, asserted during a recent Q&A that the laws need to be brought up to date because they don’t cover activity such as online gambling. Despite the absence of any regulatory framework, online gambling and digital betting have become extremely popular in Malaysia, as well as virtually everywhere in the world, over the past decade.
Talk of changes to the country’s gambling laws first started circulating this past May. At that time, lawmakers met with Malaysia’s Communication and Multimedia Commission, the Finance Ministry, Bank Negara Malaysia, legal gambling operators and law enforcement officials to start to formulate a plan of attack. The magnitude of police action against illegal gambling activity is fueling that talk once again and will provide the impetus for the country to take action.
Not only is illegal gambling activity increasing, but it is apparently attracting participation by those meant to stop it. Parliamentary member Alice Lau asserts that an increasing number of police officers are participating in or facilitating the illegal operations. She asked during the Q&A how this could be stopped to which Yassin replied that the government would take appropriate action against any law enforcement officer found to be involved in the illegal gambling industry.
Malaysia governs gambling activity through four different pieces of legislation. The Lotteries Act was first written in 1952, followed by the Betting Act and the Common Gaming Houses Act a year later. In 1967, the Pool Betting Act was enacted. Of course, all four were put into play well ahead of the introduction of the Internet and the subsequent rise in popularity of online gaming.