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Growth of Online Gambling in Malaysia

News

2021-07-17

Eddy Cheung

The online gambling industry continues to grow worldwide. In fact, its projected growth is from $64.13 billion in 2020 to more than $72 billion in 2021. Malaysia is no exception to the rise of Internet-based gambling. Despite national restrictions on online gaming, interest in online casinos continues to increase among Malaysians.

Growth of Online Gambling in Malaysia

Gambling Law in Malaysia

Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation, forbids nearly every form of offline and online gambling. There are three major pieces of legislation that affect gambling in the country.

Betting Act of 1953

All types and methods of gambling are basically outlawed by the 1953 Betting Act, specifically bookmaking and sports betting. Betting house operators and patrons, if caught, can face five years in jail and a fine of up to 200,000 MYR.

On the positive side, the state does not usually focus on individual gamblers. Instead, the government tends to concentrate on betting house owners or operators.

Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953

This piece of legislation makes it a criminal act to operate a gaming establishment or even to be found inside one. Those who are caught violating this law can be imprisoned for up to six months and pay a penalty of up to 5,000 MYR.

The law pretty much defines a gaming house as a location where people have the ability to gather and gamble. And though it doesn't explicitly say so, gambling sites could also be considered as gaming houses.

Sharia Law

Sixty percent of Malaysia's population is composed of Malays, whose mandatory religion is Islam according to the Malaysian Constitution. Islamic law, known as Sharia or syariah, forbids gambling, so most Malaysians cannot engage in this activity.

However, people who live in Malaysia who are not Malay, such as Indians and ethnic Chinese, are not restricted by Sharia law. They represent 37% of Malaysia's population and are the ones who engage more and spend more on gambling.

Bricks and Mortar Casinos or Offline Gambling in Malaysia

Gambling isn't 100% prohibited in Malaysia. There is one huge mountaintop casino resort called Resorts World Genting. Also known as Casino de Genting, it's one of the world's biggest casinos and has thousands of slots and hundreds of gaming tables.

Malaysia also has three racing courses that date from the late 19th century: Selangor Turf Club, Perak Turf Club, and Selangor Turf Club. Betting on horse races at these clubs or at off-track betting facilities is permitted.

Online Gambling in Malaysia

Despite Malaysia's gambling restrictions, online gambling has been on an upward trajectory. Wagering on the English Premier League and other football events and sports such as badminton is a popular activity.

The advancement of technology plays a major role in making online gambling in Malaysia not only more accessible, but more affordable too—especially among younger individuals. As in many other countries, gamblers are increasingly using mobile technology to take part in online gaming.

Moreover, there are plenty of online casinos based outside of Malaysia that welcome players who live in Malaysia. Besides offering a wide variety of games, these sites attract Malaysian gamblers because they are available in Bahasa Melayu, so players can enjoy gambling and communicating in their local language. What's more, several of them also include the Malaysian ringgit among their list of accepted currencies.

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AUTHOREddy Cheung

I remember the first time I saw Kai Tak, Hong Kong's gambling city, I thought I was in a fairy tale. All the lights blinking, the music and the monumental buildings, what 9-year-old wouldn’t think they’ve come to a magical place? It was my father who brought me, dragging me along and when inside I was hit by the smell of frying duck. As soon as I hit 21 I returned to Kai Tak, A bit nervous to see if my mind had embellished the memory, but it hadn’t. Kai Tak was still a magical place. I decided I wanted to spend as much time as I could at this place, so I did. For the next coming years I lived and breathed Kai Tak. Now I am married with kids, and they have become a part of my life too. That’s why I started exploring online casinos to create a better work-life balance and I couldn’t be happier!

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