Police in Malaysia are losing their war against online sports betting. According to Malaysian gambling laws, sports betting in the country is illegal. With the 2010 World Cup coming up just around the corner, unlicensed internet sportsbooks are on the rise, and police are starting to crack down. According to police chief Zainuddin Yaakob, a special taskforce has been set up to monitor internet gambling activities in the country, raiding outlets that offer online gambling.
Despite these measures, online sportsbooks in Malaysia are thriving. To avoid being caught, bookmakers stay out of plain view, using runners to find clients and show them where to place bets online. Runners supply bettors with a special user name and password that give them complete access to the underground sportsbook websites. This login information is only provided once clients pay an upfront fee of over $400, which ensures them a line of credit with the sports betting operation.
According to an anonymous source who spoke to the New Strait Times, these bookmakers avoid detection by changing the username and password several times each week. They also shift around the URL of the site to keep law enforcement officials on their toes.
Police chief Datuk Mokhtar Shariff says that officials understand how these bookies operate, and are working hard to take control of the situation. “We are working with the federal police on this as it is also a nationwide problem,” he says. In fact, over 1,700 computers have been seized in recent months in connected with unlicensed sports betting operations.
These locally-operated websites are only a small slice of the pie. Many major offshore sportsbooks also offer internet betting in Malaysia. Some, like Canbet and Ladbrokes, even allow punters to wager in Malaysian Ringgit, though the services are only offered in English. Authorities are unable to go after these sportsbooks since they are operated out of other countries.
In the meantime, local bookies are looking forward to earning millions of Ringgits during the upcoming World Cup.