Online gambling is not legal in Malaysia, but the law remains significantly unclear. This may be because these laws were written ages ago and do not mention anything about online betting in Malaysia.
And locally, a large section of society is against gambling. But that does not mean Malaysians are not participating in online betting. Most of the overseas gambling sites accept Malaysian customers and even allow them to transact in Ringgits. We will talk more about that later, but first, let’s delve into the laws that ban betting in Malaysia. If you are looking for an interesting story that has caught the world’s attention then check here.
Laws The Governs Malaysia’s Gambling Scenarios
61.3% of Malaysia’s population belongs to the Muslim community. So, almost all forms of gambling are restricted in the country. And, this ban is defined by three frameworks:
The Betting Act 1953
This is a comprehensive act that outlaws all types of gambling. It even highlights different means of transacting the bets between the gambling houses and customers. Additionally, it addresses almost every loophole one would look for in an act that has been written ages ago.
Under the Betting Act 1953, if anyone is caught operating a gambling business or patronizing it, the individual will be fined up to 200,000 ringgits. The perpetrator will also be imprisoned for five years in jail. But it is not clear whether or not online betting sites could be defined as a betting house.
“According to the act, a betting house is any place used by a bookmaker to receive or negotiate bets or wagers on any such event or contingency as aforesaid, whether such bets or wagers reach the bookmaker by the hand of the person placing the bet or his agent or the bookmaker’s agent or through the telephone or the post or by telegram or by any other mean.”
‘By any other means,’ these are the words that put online betting in trouble as it allows the law to be applied to internet gambling. The bright side for gamblers is that similar to other counters Malaysia does not target individual gamblers; instead, it focuses on individuals who run or facilitate gambling operations.
Common Gaming House Act 19653
The Betting Act 1953 focuses on bookmaking and sports betting. However, the Common Gaming House Act 1953 targets every other form of betting. Under this act, Malaysians cannot operate a gaming house.
In fact, you will be penalized if you were even found inside one. According to this act, gaming is defined as playing any game of chance or mixed chance on money’s worth. It also goes into great detail to explain gaming houses.
Non-Muslims in Malaysia, including Hindus, Buddhists’, Christians, etc. are bound by Sharia Law. Additionally, the country recognizes Sharia courts which exist with Malaysia’s legal system. The law is primarily focused on a family member; however, gambling is restricted in Sharia law.
What Is The Way, Forward
Although the law outlaws gambling activities in the country, Malaysian are still participating in gambling activities. Like we mentioned above, the government targets betting houses rather than individual gamblers. The country cannot overlook the fact that online betting is an exponentially lucrative market. Due to the stringent betting laws in the country, it is losing a substantial amount of money to illegal gambling activities.
Taking a gambling-related stance is tricky in an Islamic country. Malaysia has a unique dual system of law, Syriah courts that are dedicated to the Muslims of the country, and the secular law, which is a bit liberal about gambling. With more than half of the popular being Muslim, the gambling decisions will always be intricate.
There needs to be a more thorough debate on the subject to find a way around the issue. Should gambling be completely banned in the country? Should it be liberalized, at least to some extent? Major stakeholders of the country should participate in the debate, including academics, policymakers, the gambling industry, etc. It is needed to be done to at least update the law and include online gambling and its facets.
What Are The Treatment Options?
There is a lack of structured gambling treatment services in Malaysia’s public sector. Additionally, there are numerous private rehabilitation facilities for gamblers. Additionally, there is no anonymous gambler meeting available offline, but people can access GA online. Unfortunately, most people with gambling issues remain undiagnosed and untreated.
The problems only come to light when the issues transform into something severe or the individual lands in legal troubles. Evidently, the country needs to do more to mitigate issues associated with gambling, the potential harm it can cause, their symptoms, etc. It is imperative to address these critical issues surrounding gambling and extend the right treatment services.
What Can We Expect?
Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia of Malaysia Datuk Zahidi Zainal Abidin addressed this issue. He says that the country is experiencing a significant increase in online gaming activity. The popularity especially spiked up during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister suggested that it would be profitable for the nation to regulate gambling operations, considering that banning them is proving impossible. Moreover, the government plans to appoint an official body to regulate and tax parties involved in gambling activities.
While Malaysia is a Muslim country, there is a large section of the nation that enjoys gambling. The government will continue to prohibit the Muslim community from taking part in any sorts of gambling activities. However, the government will allow non-Muslims to gamble.
Presently, there are three types of gamblers in Malaysia: people are gambling on overseas gambling sites, foreign people using Malaysian gambling sites, and Malaysians who are using Malaysian gambling platforms. And, if the government legalized and regulated online gambling, it could tax these people accordingly.
The online betting domain is a high revenue-generating landscape. It can allow Malaysia to collect a massive amount of money annually. Malaysia is already a strong gambling market, and the government can further reinforce it.