Malaysia budget ups gambling penalties

Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has introduced stiffer penalties for illegal gambling in the country’s annual budget.

The government, which handed down the budget last Friday, is proposing a higher minimum penalty of RM100,000 ($28,889) for illegal gamblers, with a minimum mandatory jail sentence of six months.

For illegal operators, the minimum penalty will be RM1 million and a 12-month minimum jail sentence. 

In addition, the number of special draws allowed for Numbers Forecast Operators will be cut from 11 to 8 times a year from next year. 

Currently, the penalty for illegal gambling under the Common Gaming Houses Act is a fine of up to RM50,000 or up to six months’ jail, or both, while operators of such activities can be fined up to RM50,000 and jailed up to three years, or both.

Local media cited legal experts as saying they believed the higher penalties would help deter illegal gambling, but would not stamp it out. 

Malaysia has been cracking down on underground gambling operations in recent years, staging numerous raids across the country.