Malaysia is popular for its sandy beaches, exotic wildlife, the Batu Caves, clear oceanic waters, highlands, and Kuala Lumpur, a city bustling with life. These attractions make the country a popular destination for world travelers and locals alike.
However, one issue that affects the country’s entertainment industry is that of gambling, from lotteries to horse racing to poker games. Tourists in Malaysia searching for sports betting, for example, maybe disappointed not to find gaming venues in cities large or small. They may go online searching for gambling opportunities there, given the rapid increase globally in online poker and betting sites.
But is online gambling legal in Malaysia? And more specifically, what is the status of sports betting?
Laws Governing Gambling in Malaysia
Malaysia prohibits gambling, including sports betting, casino games, horse racing, online poker games, lotteries, and other kinds of betting wagers. The Sharia Laws of Islam also prohibit Muslims from betting, and Malaysia’s dominant religion is Islam.
The Common Gaming Houses Act and the Betting Act were enacted in 1953 to govern sports betting and gaming.
According to the Common Gaming Houses Act, Malaysia disallows all types of gambling, including poker and casino games. Gambling operators risk a fine of up to 5,000 ringgits (MYR) or a jail sentence of up to six months for breaking the law.
On the other hand, the Betting Act prohibits all kinds of sports betting in Malaysia, both offline and online. Gambling operators risk five years in prison or a fine of 200,000 ringgits (MYR) for breaking the law.
Of course, these laws from nearly 70 years ago do not fully regulate online gambling.
How Online Gambling Works in Malaysia
The federal government of Malaysia has never taken legal action against offshore gambling operators and bookmakers who make betting accessible to locals and tourists from the country. This history makes betting sites confident that they won’t risk any legal action for offering wagers to locals.
However, the government has previously raided illegal gambling rings on its soil. It ensures that no physical gambling casinos exist in the country. However, it only blocks online gambling sites from being accessed locally.
Going after offshore online operators would be costly and time-consuming, explaining why the government has never taken action against mobile bookmakers. The Malaysian government simply discourages bookmakers from offering their services in the country and blocks betting URLs.
Similarly, the government is reluctant to go after online gamblers. This means that a person can easily get away with betting if they can access the sites.
Is There a Possibility of Legalizing Online Gambling in Malaysia?
More than half of the Malaysian population (61.5%) is Muslim, and the Islamic Sharia Law forbids gambling. Although the rest of the population (about 39%) is non-Muslim (Indians, Chinese, etc.) and may be comfortable with sports betting, the majority generally has the final say.
In terms of practicalities, the low demand for betting in Malaysia isn’t enough to motivate politicians to change the laws to legalize online gambling.
Why Online Poker Is Still Popular in Malaysia Despite the Ban
Technically, unless the government blocks their internet URLs, anyone could indulge in sports gambling online in Malaysia. With access to online sportsbooks, any interested person worldwide can sign up on a betting site and begin betting. Various large bonuses, reputable bookmakers, and fair odds are available online from Malaysia.
Sports gamblers in Malaysia have access to sports betting facilities and other gaming and gambling sites online through international sites. However, they may find that unofficial Malaysian online casinos, such as Wabo 66, have been blocked through their internet providers by the government.
Many people from Malaysia wager at offshore betting sites despite the fact that their culture and strict local laws prohibit gambling. Both tourists and Malaysians flout the laws to engage in online betting. Although most bookmakers accept USD for deposits, some online sportsbooks allow players to transact in Malaysian ringgits (MYR).
The fact that gambling is illegal means that the country lacks market regulation and government protection against scam casinos. Therefore, a would-be Malaysian gambler must do due diligence to ensure that the sports betting platform they pick is reputable and genuine.
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