A dozen men and five women were arrested in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Wednesday for their involvement in operating an internet sports betting site. Malaysian gambling laws forbid all forms of sports betting except for horse racing, and online gambling in all forms is equally prohibited.
Those arrested are suspected of running an international sports betting syndicate. If convicted, they face fines of up to RM 200,000 or five years jail.
Bukit Aman secret societies, gambling and anti-vice division assistant director ACP Sanusi Sidek said that in addition to the arrests, computer equipment used to power the online sportsbook in Malaysia was confiscated. “We also seized 30 desktop computers showing bets from overseas involving football, tennis, golf and badminton.”
“The syndicate which had been operating since three years ago used the place an office to take receive bets amounting over RM1 million daily,” explained Sanusi.
The syndicate had been evading police for some time, frequently changing offices and moving around Kuala Lumpur in an effort to avoid being shut down.
In late June of this year, Information, Communications and Culture minister Rais Yatim proposed that sports betting, both online and offline, should be legal in the country. If punters are allowed to bet on sports in Malaysia, he argues, the number of illegally-internet betting agencies would be greatly reduced. Subsequently, the other crimes that often accompany these underground bet shops would also begin to fade away.
“Instead of allowing black market to flourish where even the young can participate,” said Yatim,” licensed sports betting, if well-regulated, will discourage illegal gambling activities.”
As of yet, no official moves have been made to legalize internet sports betting in the country. In fact, this recent raid on the online bookmaker syndicate in Kuala Lumpur suggest officials are still adamant about keeping online betting in the country under wraps.