ONLINE gambling is almost commonplace and advertisements for such activities can be seen on dubious websites, spam emails as well as unsolicited SMS and WhatsApp messages.
Is betting on online casinos and betting sites illegal?
Online gambling is illegal under the current Common Gambling Houses Act 1953 (CGHA), the Betting Act 1953 (although the Act does not explicitly cover it) as well as the Gambling Act 1953. sharia.
The Betting Act is a general law that prohibits all forms of gambling unless the company has a legal license to operate and covers telecommunications and other means of transmitting bets between customers and betting houses .
According to this law, anyone caught running a betting house or caught in one will be punished with a fine of RM200,000 and five years in prison.
The CGHA (with other amendments) is more inclusive than the Betting Act in its coverage of types of games of chance. The CGHA defines gambling as “the act of playing any game of chance or mixed chance and skill for money or money”.
In 2020, the penalty for illegal gamblers and gambling operators has increased 20 times from RM5,000 to RM100,000 and a minimum jail term of six months.
Sharia law prohibits all forms of gambling among Muslims in the country.
Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar operations, however, it is easy for online gambling providers and users to mask their online identities.
Moreover, the regulation of such sites is difficult because the authorities can only block the offending sites.
However, according to CF Fong, chairman of LGMS Berhad and cybersecurity consultant, even that is difficult.
“They will (just change) their domain name once their servers are blocked. They can notify their users of new sites that may appear quickly. It will be difficult for authorities to track and block them (all of them),” he said. said.
Fong added that many online gambling sites had their servers hosted overseas, which made it more difficult to identify owners.
Fong also thinks legalizing online gambling could lead to other social problems.
“When you allow online gambling, anyone can set up a site and collect money from people. So unless (the act of) gambling is based in (physical) establishments ), it will not be possible to regulate it.
“Ethically, I don’t think (allowing) it’s good because you’re encouraging and giving the public better access to the game,” he said.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia has estimated that the country loses RM2bil in taxes every year from online gambling.
Deputy Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin told The Star in a recent interview that the government is considering updating the CGHA to better tackle online gambling.
He said he was even considering allowing regulation of certain online games involving “betting” and “gifting”.
He said online games (the non-game genre) were very popular in Malaysia and some were charging people to play.
“Some operators also offer ‘freebies’, and we hope to regulate that as well,” he said.
While not strictly games of chance per se, some of these games have similar functionality to gambling, especially those that use loot box mechanics.
In video games, a loot box is a consumable virtual item that can be exchanged for a random selection of in-game items, some of which are highly prized.
These are obtained either through in-game events or directly from the game creator with money.
Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law), said the Ministry of Finance was contacted about two months ago and proposals to amend the law on his behalf were made. .
“In principle, the law falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance, but we cannot change it unless we have the power to do so,” he said.
Wan Junaidi added that he was waiting for confirmation from the Ministry of Finance on the matter.
He also said that current gambling laws are outdated, especially when it comes to online gambling.