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Malaysian Authorities Get Tough on Gambling

by Glenn Baird - August 5, 2017

RM345,500 worth of online gambling items were seized at premises in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur last week. The 239 items detained by authorities were found in two different locations in the city and included items such as simulator machines and computer chips.

Even though no form of gambling is permitted in Kuala Lumpur a survey conducted by the Federal Territories Ministry discovered that 615 locations were known to be participating in illegal activities, some of which included gambling.

The raids are part of an attempt by Malaysian authorities, beginning in January of this year to crack-down on illegal activities, such as online gambling, within the city. A task force comprising the Islamic Religious Department, Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Inland Revenue Board has been working alongside the Royal Malaysia Police to eliminate any activities within the city deemed illegal according to the country’s Syariah Court.

Federal Territories Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Adnan Md Ikshan is quoted in the Malaymail Online saying:
“We are now in the process of preparing a paper to the cabinet to improve existing laws by focusing on six aspects of illegal activities, namely online gambling, entertainment centre, massage parlour, drug abuse, abuse of permit by students and Syariah offences.”

Despite the strict laws that prohibit gambling there is real demand for it within Malaysia and prior to the raids beginning at the start of the year, there were plenty of opportunities to gamble. This would often take place in “Family Entertainment Centres” where online gambling is promoted through the installation of terminals that can also be found in clubs and bars.

The toughened stance taken by Malaysian authorities sees the possibility of a regulated gambling industry all but vanish. The argument is one of many that plays a part in a much bigger political debate that has raged on for decades within the country.

Malaysia is a predominantly Islamic country, with 61% of the population classified as Muslim. Yet, the political system is, strictly speaking, secular. However, the influence of the Syariah Court, which is supposed to run parallel to the civil courts and exists purely to apply Shariah law to Muslim citizens appears to be growing and with that influence it becomes more likely that gambling, along with other offences to Shariah law, such as drinking alcohol, will be met with tough justice.