Malaysia’s push to review its gambling laws seems to have made some progress despite no timetable. Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim revealed that the Ministry of Finance is reviewing the gambling laws to introduce amendments that will enable the government “to enforce and regulate licensed gambling activities and online gambling more comprehensively.”
The initiative was previously suggested by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed in November 2021. He said a total of 2,294 charges involving online gambling were recorded nationwide in 2019; 2,911 charges in 2020; and 2,165 in 2021.
The Malaysian government has been seeking to crack down on illegal gambling for years, carrying out regular campaigns to stamp out the activity.
According to the Prime Minister, at least four laws related to gambling in the country are under evaluation, as the last amendment of the laws was made in 2001.
The Malaysian PM considers that “a review is not only warranted but well overdue as the internet has made gambling easily accessible through local and offshore online gambling websites.”
Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation, is unusual in its regulation of various forms of gambling. Lotteries are permitted in Malaysia by the Lotteries Act in 1952, and horse racing was legalized in 1961. However, sports betting was forbidden by the Betting Act of 1953.
Kedah state triggered criticism after banning 4D lottery sale points and immediately revoking licenses on January 1, 2023. Some opponents argued this would force foreign investors to look to foreign countries and players for illegal options to gamble.
Resorts World Genting, the sole licensed gambling facility in Malaysia, is set in the Genting Highlands Resort. Genting Malaysia recorded revenue of $496.51 million in the first quarter of this year.
According to local media, two of the 10 richest billionaires in Malaysia are linked to the gaming industry. Dr Chen Lip Keong, owner of NagaCorp and Karambunai was classified as the 6th richest individual in the nation, with a net worth of $2.8 billion. Malaysia’s 7th richest person is the well-known Genting Group boss Lim Kok Thay.