Right now, Malaysian gambling laws do not allow local punters to place wagers on sporting events (with the exception of horse races, which may be bet on freely). This is largely due to the significant Muslim population in the country. Sports betting does take place, especially on local and global football matches, but this betting happens illegally. The lack of legal sports betting in Malaysia, however, may soon change.
According to Prime Minister Najib Razak, the government is currently reviewing proposals to legalize sports betting, and the process may well be complete by the start of the World Cup, which runs from June 11 to July 11.
Should the propels be approved, sports betting in Malaysia would be handed over Berjaya Group, a company currently involved in the country’s lottery and casino industries. The group has been interested in legalized sports betting for several years. They submitted a similar proposal in 2004, but the request was denied.
Money generated from legalized sports betting could potentially be channeled into promoting local sports. A senior sports official warns, however, that the legalization of sports betting would do little to curb the severe corruption that the nation’s football industry faces.
“The fight against match-fixing is never ending. By legalising betting, it will not totally eradicate match-fixing. What we need to do is to remain vigilant,” he said.
What effect, if any, the legalization of sports betting would have on online sportsbooks in Malaysia is difficult to predict. There are currently no legal internet betting websites operating out of the country, and the government has no immediate plans to legalize online gambling. The legalization of sports betting, however, may well be the impetus needed to spark the internet gambling industry in Malaysia.