Malaysia, Dubai seen as potential online gambling bases

Malaysia government

Malaysia and Dubai are both being viewed as potential bases for online gambling operations, as an alternative to the Philippines, where the cost of doing business has risen to a level considered as unacceptable by many operators. 

Speaking on an Asia Gaming Brief webinar, Cherry Interactive General Manager Danny Too said both jurisdictions had emerged as potential hosts.

“You can set up finance, operations, and can even do online marketing out of the Malaysian office, but the key thing is that you get the permission of the federal government,” he told the webinar. “You can get a place to work and a license from one of the states but you need to go through the central government to go ahead. From the government point of view it’s just a BPO and as long as the games are not being offered in Malaysia, the government is happy to bring in these operators.”

The federal government in Malaysia has been prompted to act in an effort to stamp out rampant online gambling and to collect “billions of U.S. dollars,” in lost revenue to illegal sources, he said. The economic hit from the Covid-19 pandemic has given further impetus to the process.

“Malaysia is a very, very interesting proposition,” he said. “Authorities have been talking about it, but during the pandemic they have upped the ante and want to get companies in. I have been speaking with 5 to 6 operators who are interested.”

However, the government wants to ensure that the companies are legitimate and not scammers and will be able to pay both their taxes and employees. They will also be banned from offering services to Malaysia’s Muslim population, Too said, adding that actual regulation is still some way off. 

Live dealer, which is one of the fastest-growing online verticals, will not be permitted in the country, he added.

Dubai is taking a similar stance and is being considered by some Chinese operators who are keen to diversify their portfolio away from China and instead target the huge and growing Indian market.

The city is home to a large expatriate workforce, in particular from India, providing a potential workforce with strong cultural affiliations with the target market. 

Too said that to date, Dubai has taken the same stance as Malaysia when it comes to live dealer operations, not permitting any physical presence of table set ups on its soil. 

Asia Gaming Brief will be delving deeper in alternative i-gaming jurisdictions and some of the themes discussed on the webinar in an upcoming white paper to be distributed to subscribers.