The Story of How Malaysia Legalizes Gambling

Neighboring Malaysia has a unique set of laws regarding gambling. More than half of the population is prohibited from gambling due to Sharia law which applies to Muslims in Malaysia. But there are also legal forms of gambling for non-Muslim citizens in the country. For non-Muslims, gambling in Malaysia is still legal.

Hearing the two laws that apply in Malaysia is indeed quite unique. But to get to these two laws, Malaysia has a long history. How did Malaysia legalize gambling? Here’s the full review:

The Early Emergence of Gambling

Gambling in Malaysia emerged in the early 19th century because it was brought by Chinese traders. Gambling taken over from China is fast becoming popular here. In colonial times, when Malaysia was under British influence, horse racing gambling was introduced. The first and only legal casino in Malaysia was created from the initiative of Malaysian conglomerate “Genting Group” at Cara Daftar Sbobet Casino.

The founder of gambling, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, in 1969, proposed to the then prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman to grant licenses to the emerging casinos. Requests were accepted, licenses were granted, and in 1971 Casino de Genting was officially opened.

During the following years, due to the development of the casino, he was moved to a different location in the Gentling Highlights Resort, to finally find his place at the First World Hotel on November 26, 2004.

Betting Act of 1953

The main cornerstone of betting law in Malaysia is the Betting Act of 1953. Gambling in Malaysia is regulated by the Common Gaming House Act, along with changes introduced on January 1, 2006. Control over casinos is an exercise by the Ministry of Finance which is also responsible for granting licences.

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However the Malaysian government announced in 2003 that it would not license any casinos, and for now Casino de Genting is the only one in the Malaysian gambling market. Since Malaysia is a Muslim country, and under Sharia law, Muslims cannot participate in gambling. Entrance to the casino is only possible by non-Muslim beliefs with a minimum age of 21 years.

Application of Sharia Law

The Betting Act of 1953 is something that only really applies to the ethnic Chinese portion of the other minority population and those visiting Malaysia as tourists. For about 60% of the population, gambling of any kind is prohibited, there are even certain types of punishment according to the provisions of the Shari’a.

This is so because Sharia Law applies to the entire Muslim population in Malaysia. If laws related to gambling are violated, there can be a penalty of up to two years in prison, so it is considered a serious offense under Sharia Law.

Popular Bet Types

Football is one of the most popular sports in Malaysia, and it is the sport that attracts gamblers the most. Online football betting is growing in popularity, with people placing bets on domestic league matches and matches taking place in Europe’s major leagues.

The only legal physical casino in Malaysia is Genting Highlands Resort. It is a mountain resort that attracts many gamblers from all over the country, as well as tourists from all over the world. Baccarat and card games, as well as other table games are played at this casino resort.

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Online Casinos in Malaysia

In Malaysia there are no legal online casinos. Although Genting Group offers an online casino, Malaysian players do not have access to it. Other online casinos set up in Malaysia are illegal. Players who wish to enjoy online casinos can take advantage of offers from abroad, which are available in Malaysia.

Despite the government’s opposition to it, there has been no radical move to completely ban online gambling. Players are not afraid of the fact, that banks limit transactions on websites that offer online gambling. Malaysian players use overseas casino services which are available in English, US dollars or Malaysian ringgit.

Online casinos are banned in Malaysia, but playing at bookmakers abroad is not, despite the government trying to restrict their access. In Malaysian law, online casinos are not mentioned, but are recognized by the Malaysian government as illegal. In 2013, the government arrested 24 people involved in online casinos in Labuan province. Police also confiscated nearly 80 computers, cash and several documents. What a pretty unique policy!


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