Statistics of gambling in Malaysia - problems and future prospects
Gambling in Malaysia is represented by an impressive casino in the mountain resort Resorts World Genting. The casino features more than 3,000 slot machines. Online casinos are prohibited in Malaysia but it is possible to play in foreign institutions. Income of the legal industry is more than USD 19 billion annually.
Despite the strict ban on all gambling, three casinos and three racetracks successfully operate in Malaysia. The same number of legislative acts were adopted for the control of gambling, including virtual area. It is prohibited on the territory of this country as well, but players can enjoy websites of foreign companies.
Slot machines are subject to the taboo, as well as all forms of gambling. This is especially true for ethnic Malays. For visiting casinos, there are heavy fines provided.
However, regardless of the law, playing free online slots is available in Malaysia. It is possible in the case if the work of websites with video slots is not blocked by the provider. The provider company can either explain the reasons for the ban or not. Usually, the first variant takes place and slot machines involving gambling features are put under the ban.
Gambling business in Malaysia
Gambling business in Malaysia develops not too fast but it is surely enough. In this industry, major changes are not expected due to the following factors:
- a strong tax pressure;
- weak and constant consumer expectations;
- the lack of significant development from the outside.
Although it is Malaysia where one of the most impressive gambling complexes in the world is – the casino in the mountain resort Resorts World Genting.
Brief description of the country
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia. The capital – Kuala Lumpur, currency – Malaysian Ringgit. Ringgit exchange rate (as of November 2016): RM 1 = USD 0.22 or RM 4,46 for USD 1.
Malaysia consists of 13 states and three federal territories. The country became independent from the United Kingdom on August 31, 1957. The main sources of income – oil, electronic chips and tourism.
Tourism, of course, includes gambling. But there is a nuance: Malaysia is predominantly Muslim country, so almost all forms of gambling are prohibited.
In 2015-2016 years, Malaysian economy was having hard times because of the oil prices, the fall of the ringgit, taxation on goods and services. All these factors affect the gambling business which already has difficulties developing under total Muslim ban on gambling.
Brief description of the gambling business in Malaysia
Four companies in total are engaged in gambling business in Malaysia:
- Genting Berhad – a conglomerate in the leisure industry, the hotel industry and the oil business;
- Genting Malaysia – a monopolist in the casino area, a part of Genting Berhad;
- Magnum Bhd – the market leader in the NFO betting (number forecasting, guessing numbers);
- Berjaya Sports Toto – Malaysia gambling site with betting, leasing of equipment for online lotteries, toto.
At the end of 2015, companies received the following revenue:
- Genting Malaysia revenue – USD 18 billion;
- Magnum Bhd revenue – USD 620 million;
- Berjaya Sports Toto revenue – USD 911 million.
Three land-based casinos and three racetracks in total are operating in Malaysia. Online gambling is technically prohibited. You can legally play on sites that are based outside of the country.
Nationality – one of the factors of gambling in Malaysia
The significant factor in gambling – the nationality of players. Malaysian Constitution prescribes that every ethnic Malay must be a Muslim. Accordingly, gambling is completely banned for ethnic Malays and the ban is supported by all three laws, which will be covered further below. Ethnic Malay Muslim has no right even to go to the country's legal casino Genting Highlands.
If a player is not an ethnic Malay, he is not obliged to be a Muslim. Activities of these players fall just within the Betting Act 1953. They can find a loophole for playing somehow and can visit the Genting Highlands. By the way, many famous poker players coming from Malaysia are not ethnic Malays in fact.
Legislation in gambling in Malaysia
Gambling business in Malaysia is governed by three basic laws:
- Betting Act 1953;
- Common Gaming Houses Act 1953;
- Sharia Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act, 1997.
Betting Act, adopted in 1953, recognises all forms of gambling crime business but mainly aims at sports betting and bookmakers. The act covers even a list of telecommunications and other modes of bets transmission between clients and “betting houses”. The law is drafted in a way to cover almost all possible loopholes.
Malaysia gambling act assigns a fine of RM 200,000 (USD 44,835) and five years in prison. Anyone who has a gambling institution or patronises it is a subjected to punishment. It is still unknown whether online sites fall with the definition of “betting houses”. This can be interpreted in two ways.
Malaysian authorities do not pay attention to individual players but persecute those who organises gambling.
Common Gaming Houses Act
Common Gaming Houses Act considers all other forms of gambling. Act criminalises not only the organisation of gambling venues but also staying in it.
If a player is caught in a gambling institution, he will be fined RM 5,000 (USD 1 120) and sentenced up to 6 months in prison. Despite the fact that the law was designed in 1953, it recognises and prohibits virtually all forms of gambling, including online gambling.
Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act
Sharia is recognised as it is a predominantly Muslim country. Sharia covers mainly family matters but some states use Sharia in criminal cases. These laws strictly prohibit gambling.
Shariah punishes not only for gambling but also for being inside a gambling venue. The punishment can involve a fine of RM 3000 (USD 672) or imprisonment for up to 2 years. Sometimes both a fine and a prison sentence can be awarded.
Taxation of gambling in Malaysia
Malaysia has recently introduced a GST Malaysia gambling tax – federal tax on goods and services. The scheme of charges is the following:
C x (100/(100 + C)) * (A - B).
- A – total revenue received from players;
- B – payouts to players;
- C – a certain percentage due to the legislation.
Today’s gambling business in Malaysia
Despite all this, there are 3 casinos and 3 horse tracks operating in Malaysia. Online casino games are available on foreign sites.
Resorts World Genting, or alternatively Genting Highlands – the pearl of the gambling business throughout Southeast Asia. It is a mountain resort located on the border of two states of Malaysia quite close to the capital Kuala Lumpur. Travel time – about an hour by car.
The resort was opened in 1965. It was founded by the Chinese-Malaysian businessman Lim Goh Tong.
The resort has five large hotels, several night clubs, theme parks, showgrounds.
It is this complex where three legal casinos in Malaysia are located:
- Monte Carlo;
Total gambling area occupies 19,000 square meters. The casino offers more than 3,000 slot machines and electronic tables and 400 tables with a live dealer.
Racetracks are located in cities:
- Kuala Lumpur;
The oldest racetrack is located in Penang. It was founded in 1864. Its length – 1.9 km and the grandstand can accommodate 14,000 fans.
The biggest track is in Kuala Lumpur. It can accommodate up to 25 000 guests. Races are held throughout the year. The track length is 2 km. Malaysia gambling law allows to conduct such types of betting.
Characteristics of Malaysian gambling companies
The company was founded in 1980. It is engaged in the affairs of Resorts World Genting. Also, it is in charge of:
- Resorts World Casino New York City in the United States;
- Resorts World Bimini in the Bahamas;
- Resorts World Birmingham in the United Kingdom;
- and more than 40 casinos worldwide.
The company is also engaged in resort and hotel business in Malaysia.
The liberalisation of the gambling industry in Japan can become a potential catalyst for the development of the company. Genting Malaysia has a subsidiary in Singapore and can start to develop in more favourable conditions.
The holding was founded in August 1975. The company is mainly engaged in lotteries, namely NFO – games based on guessing the numbers.
Berjaya Sports Toto
Berjaya Sports Toto was founded in 1969 and then was called Unilite Electrical Industries Berhad. The first founder was the state. The government had hoped to use it to raise money for sports, culture and youth. In 1985б the company was privatised.
The company received its current name in May 1993. Company's activities are focused on the following areas:
- equipment leasing and technical support for online lotteries;
- production and distribution of computerised lotteries;
- after-sales service.
Berjaya Sports Toto operates abroad as well – in the Philippines, the US and the UK. In April 2015, the staff was 1 394 people.
The company offers 7 games. The most popular game is Toto 4D Jackpot which is known for frequent wins. The biggest win in 2015 was granted by the lottery Supreme Toto 6/58, it was RM 40.6 m (USD 9 million).
Online gambling in Malaysia
It is necessary to distinguish online casinos based in Malaysia and abroad. Those inside the country are completely illegal, so the risks are much higher. The same reason leads to the fact that playing in Malay casinos is dangerous. They are illegal, therefore, they are not regulated in no way. That's why they often offer pirated games that leave no chances to win. Many players compare Malaysian casinos to Wild West frontier times.
Foreign casinos are legal. Therefore, you should play exactly there. The nearby Philippines are much more favourable to gambling, the business is well regulated and undergoes a thorough audit. Many advice playing in legal online casinos of Philippines.
The best online casinos in Malaysia
The best online Malaysia gambling websites for Malaysian players are:
- Dafabet Sportsbook;
These Asian casinos hold several accounts in Malaysian banks, which implies that the registration of the cash account is quite simple for Malay. The easiest way to use accounts in banks:
- Public Bank;
- Hong Leong Bank;
Dafabet Sportsbook – an official partner of the football Premier League Everton, as well as a sponsor of World Snooker Players Tour Championship.
Bodog has been working in the industry since 1994. Bodog88 is a brand aimed at the Asian market.
Sites of online casinos providing services to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia contain on their pages a distinctive phrase: “Now you can focus on the game and stop looking for a place to play safe!”.
A few more foreign casinos offer Malays their services:
- Empire – emp88.com – a site for sports betting and a live casino;
- W88.com – online sports betting, live casino;
- m88.com – offers slot machines, mahjong, baccarat and other games of chance;
- 188bet.com – sports betting and live casino;
- bet365.com – sports betting and live casino;
- Pinnacle Sports – sports betting and live casino.
Online gambling in Malaysia
Online casinos offer a traditional set of games with Asian features for players who have necessary Malaysia gambling age:
- pai go poker;
- slot machines;
- arcade games.
Sports betting in Malaysia
Sports betting in Malaysia stands out by an interesting format – the so-called “Malay odds”. The odds may be both negative and positive.
Negative Malay odds – if odds are negative, you can bet less and receive more. Negative odds mean that you bet on someone who has chances to win less than 50%. For example, the chances -0.6 mean that it is necessary to put 0.6 ringgits to win 1 ringgit.
Positive Malay odds – a favourite has more than 50% chance of winning. Chances of 0.7 mean that you risk 1 ringgit to win 0.7 ringgit.
Lottery 4D or 4-Digits (“four digits”)
This type of lottery is the most popular in Malaysia and Singapore. A player can choose four digits from 0000 to 9999. Then 23 numbers are announced. If a player guesses one of the numbers, he gets a prize.
Key 4D-lotteries are Magnum 4D and Singapore Pools. The game is so popular in Malaysia that brings millions of income even to illegal organisers. Each year, the Malaysian government loses about USD 768 million of taxes in illegal 4D-business.
Online poker in Malaysia
Despite the ban, gambling in Malaysia results in poker, which is still slowly gaining its position and becoming more popular. All major pros and amateurs from Malaysia take part in the tournament of Macau and Australia as those organisers provide more opportunities for poker. If you enjoy playing poker games, we have a big list of slots with video poker for you to choose from!
Not so long ago, an amateur Mervin Chan from Malaysia became famous as he defeated pro players in the tournament 2013 Aussie Millions Championship in Australia. This success story attracts more and more Malays in poker. Experts are already talking about Malay poker boom.
It should be noted, that poker players in Malaysia are not Malays. They are mostly Chinese or ethnic minorities.
Slot machines in Malaysia
Slot machines in Malaysia are the greatest source of income for casinos, as well as throughout the world. Since only Genting Malaysia is legal, this is the only institutions which sales data is known. In the second quarter of 2015, the company received RM 230,92 mln (USD 51 million).
Popular slot machines in Malaysia
- Golden Tour;
- Zhao Cai Jin Bao;
- Fantastic Four;
- Vacation Station;
- Iron Man 3;
- Bai Shi;
- Jin Qian Wa.
The future of gambling in Malaysia
No one anticipates big changes in the future of gambling business in this country because of Malaysia gambling statistics. The government consistently and steadily prohibits even the slightest attempt to resolve this issue.
For example, in October 2016, Singapore has allowed limited online gambling. Participants of gambling business began to hope that Malaysia will follow this example.
Malay authorities quickly responded. Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, said:
“I think we have enough games for those wishing to gamble: Magnum, Toto and others. You can go to Singapore to play online and we will not interfere, but here in Malaysia it is still a crime”.
November 2016 was marked by the massive act of police: the authorities suspended servicing more than 12,000 telephone numbers that were associated with the promotions of gambling. Advertising of gambling is also prohibited, so market players promote their services via SMS. Police regularly monitor these numbers and ban them.
In short, the situation with gambling in Malaysia clearly will not change for the better. The authorities continue seeking to prohibit gambling not taking into account the tangible losses of millions and billions of dollars for the budget. Apparently, oil and other natural resources allow taking such things easy.