Online Gambling Regulations Malaysia
Online gambling regulations in Malaysia are quite vague as the laws on gambling in the country were written decades ago and none of them have been specifically updated to include the act of gambling online.
Malaysians, like many other people in the world, are picking up online gambling as technology advances and the country has great internet speed and coverage throughout the country, allowing avid gamblers to enjoy their favorite gambling games anytime from the comforts of home.
General Gambling Law in Malaysia
Before delving into the online gambling regulations in Malaysia, one must first understand the general regulations on gambling in the country. There are three major laws or regulations regarding gambling:
Betting Act 1953
The Betting Act 1953 bans all forms of gambling including bets that are transmitted between customers and betting houses. It covers all the possible loopholes in an era almost seven decades ago. Even today, there is no easy way around it. With a penalty of up to 200,000 ringgit and 5 years in jail for any individual convicted of operating a betting house or patronizing one, the dilemma today is whether the online betting sites fall under the definition of a “betting house”.
Although this law could be applied to online gambling, the good news is that the Malaysian government does not usually bother with individual gamblers and instead, go after those who offer betting services.
Common Gaming Houses Act 1953
Another regulation enacted in 1953 is the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 that covers mainly sports betting and bookmaking by criminalizing the operation of a gaming house and those who are caught in one. It states that any person caught in a gaming house is subjected to a fine of up to RM 5,000 and up to six months in prison, defining gaming as “the playing of any game of chance or of mixed chance and skill for money or money’s worth”.
It also covered the definition of gaming house in detail whereby all possible locations that people could gather and gamble are included. Like the Betting Act of 1953, this Act would apply to online gambling as well, but again, the Malaysian government does not seem to be interested in pursuing individual online gamblers.
In Malaysia, Muslims account for over 60% of the population and are bound by Islamic or Sharia Law which forbids gambling. Non-Muslims consisting of ethnic Chinese, Indians, and others are not bound by Syariah Law.
This means that Muslims are prohibited from all types of gambling be it online or at physical locations.
Besides the three main laws concerning gambling in Malaysia, there are also others that shed light on the gambling landscape in Malaysia. Although there is only one legal land-based casino in Malaysia known as Genting Highlands Resort, the Lotteries Act of 1952 and Racing Act of 1961 allows legal lotteries and wagering. This includes horse racing bets by the Turf Clubs in the country along with lottery providers such as Toto, 4D, Big Sweep, and Da Ma Cai.
Malaysia’s High Court Verdict
In early 2022, the Malaysian government attempted to seize real estate and bank accounts linked to “illegal” online gambling. However, the country’s High Court determined that based on the legal gaming framework (The Common Gaming Houses Act), there is no language that includes online gambling, meaning that the government cannot exactly call it illegal. The court also rejected the idea that bank accounts could be potentially seized are they are not technically assets per se.
As explained by Judicial Commissioner Radzi Abdul Hamid, “Despite the government’s ongoing war against illegal gambling activities, laws such as the Common Gaming Houses Act and Betting Act have not caught up with the times and they have not been updated to include express provisions for making online gambling illegal”.
The High Court also pointed out that the then-Home Minister in 2017 vowed to introduce amendments to the regulations to cover online gambling, but never did.
The Judicial Commissioner went on to explain that the government cannot touch privately owned banks as they are considered “virtual storage” facilities where the bank provides “a mere facility” to the customer with the purpose of managing the financial relationship. As lawmakers are scrambling to close loopholes, online gambling in Malaysia for now, is not technically illegal and bank accounts of individuals are untouchable.
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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
What Are The Best Online Gambling Sites In Malaysia?
Some of the best online gambling sites in Malaysia include Ten188, Bet365, 1xBet, 22Bet, Dafabet, and more. For an in-depth review of these sites, check out our guide on the “Best online casino sites in Malaysia” or “Top online sports betting sites in Malaysia”. Our articles include which sites offer the best real money table games such as blackjack and roulette, top bonuses in the industry like free spins or welcome bonus, the payment methods accepted, and more.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Malaysia?
Online gambling is technically not illegal in Malaysia based on several factors including the outdated gambling regulations in the country, the government’s disinterest in prosecuting individual online gamblers, and the recent High Court Verdict.
How Do I Make A Casino Deposit?
To make a casino deposit, it ultimately depends on the gambling operator you choose to play with. While some operators accept deposits via online bank transfers, credit cards, and debit cards, there are also some that accept cryptocurrency like bitcoin or payments via e-wallets such as Neteller, Skrill, and more.
What Are The Risks of Gambling Online?
The main risk of gambling online is not choosing a legitimate operator to play with. This opens you up to the possibility of losing your funds, exposing your personal information along with financial information, and more. Since these operators are based outside the country, it also means that they are not bound by Malaysian laws as they are outside of the country’s jurisdiction. If you choose to gamble online, play with trustworthy sites that accept Malaysian players and are licensed by authorities.