Since becoming a free country in the late 1950s, Malaysia has developed itself as one of Southeast Asia’s most financially prosperous nations. In Malaysia, gambling is a difficult prospect due to the country’s tight gambling rules, which make gaming practically illegal, but there are some alternatives. Here, gambling.com examines the state of play in Malaysia, how online gambling such as mega888 malaysia functions, and the country’s main markets and sports.
‘Popular betting houses’ are illegal in Malaysia, according to the Betting Act of 1953, meaning anybody working as a sports bookmaker or finds betting in one is violating the rules. Certain types of gambling, however, are legal in the country: the Lotteries Act of 1952 requires lotteries to be held, and the Racing Act of 1961 allows horse racing betting, but only at a physical race track. The Genting Highlands Resort (more on that below) is the only other legal gambling location in the world, and even there, Sharia law prohibits Muslims from participating on religious grounds.
However, the legal status of online gambling in Malaysia is less clear. Since the Betting Act has no clear reference to online gambling and no applicable provision has been introduced, the industry remains essentially uncontrolled. The government, on the other hand, does not grant online casino licences and aims to prevent people from accessing international sites by instructing banks not to sanction payments to foreign online casinos.
Internet cafés around the world have become hotspots for illicit online and land-based gaming, and demands for legalization to curb the spread of such crimes have become progressively popular. However, due to the vague laws surrounding internet gaming, many Malaysians gamble online without issue – indeed, some of the world’s largest online bookmakers and casinos, such as 888sport and Mr Green, happily welcome Malaysian players.
Badminton is possibly Malaysia’s most successful sport, but football is the most common sport in the world, with people of all ages participating. Football matches in the country’s domestic Super League, as well as the other European leagues, account for a large portion of the money wagered at online bookmakers (particularly the English Premier League). Non-Muslim people enjoy legal horse racing betting in addition to football betting, and Sports Toto, a 4D (four-digit) lottery operator, has about 680 outlets across the world.
The aforementioned Genting Highlands Resort, which houses the Casino de Genting, is Malaysia’s only legitimate land-based casino. The ‘Fun City Above The Clouds,’ located 6,100 feet above sea level in the Titiwangsa Mountain Range, is unlike any other casino, and its unusual environment makes it a must-see for visitors to the region. Visitors will get there in under an hour by coach from Kuala Lumpur, so it’s not as far away as it seems, and the nearby amusement park and hotels ensure that gamblers won’t be lonely if they want to take a break from the tables.
Of course, not everybody can go to a mountain resort to gamble, and although there are no companies headquartered in Malaysia, there are other online betting solutions based elsewhere. Bet365, which has a bookie and a casino, not only accepts Malaysian participants, but also accepts Malaysian ringgit deposits.
What the future holds for gambling in Malaysia remains to be seen. The country’s dual-system of law – Sharia-governed Syariah Courts for the country’s Muslims (over half of the total population) coexist with secular courts that allow religious freedom – continues to spark debate, with the question of whether the country’s laws should reflect a secular or Islamic viewpoint still being debated. One of the topics at the centre of this controversy is gambling, with the issue of legalisation a hot topic.
Perhaps lawmakers will see the large-scale illegal activity associated with the industry (such as the $1 billion casino racket busted in 2012) and see a sector that requires oversight, but the outlook is far from certain. To learn about making money betting on horse racing, click here.