Maintaining a modern multi-ethnic federal state with a population that practices a wide range is not an easy task for Malaysia. While the country’s constitution grants Islam the status of state religion, it also protects the rights of those 40% who are members of other denominations.
When it comes to gambling, the situation becomes even more complicated. Although Malaysian gambling laws authorize it in general, it is strictly prohibited for the country’s Muslim population.
It is therefore the local Buddhists, Hindus and Christians (mostly ethnic Chinese and Indian), as well as the tourists visiting the country, who are allowed to play in the country’s casino and engage in sports wagering.
Even they, however, are not allowed to play at online casinos in Malaysia, since such sites are not authorized at all.
Attempts to establish online sportsbooks in Malaysia have also failed, most recently in 2010. The government has been worried that allowing such sites to operate would present too much of a ‘temptation’ for the Muslim population, and instead the government remains determined to persecute and prosecute online gamblers.
Most recently, police in the offshore financial haven of Labuan have busted several gambling parlors on Thursday and Friday, seizing 79 computers and arresting 24 suspects. Sixteen of them were Muslims, so they may also face charges before religious courts in addition to the criminal charges to be heard by civil courts.
The clandestine gambling halls were located mainly in shopping areas and commercial centers, drawing in a relatively well-off, white collar clientele for the most part. Details about the games played, as well as further details about those detained have not been released.
The authorities are not treating this raid as a one-off event.
“Labuan police will give priority to efforts to combat online gambling and information from the public is very much needed to prevent online gambling from becoming rampant,” said regional head of police, Adzhar Othman.
Summarizing the results of ‘Ops Dadu’, as the raid were called, he also described police plans to cooperate with the local power company in the future, to cut electricity to such venues.