In this article I address the various forms of legal gambling in Malaysia as well as our national gambling laws.
First and foremost, I would like to make a clear distinction between online casinos based in Malaysia and those based offshore. Any internet casinos that are operating from Malaysia are completely illegal. It is against the law to run an online gambling site that has an office, server or any other form of physical presence in our country.
However, companies that are based outside of our borders are NOT illegal. A lot of these companies are huge worldwide brands that are used by people across the globe and many of them are even listed on the London Stock Exchange. These are not shady, underground sites, but are in fact huge multinational companies who’s services are used by tens if not hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis. A number of them have partnerships with some of the world’s biggest sporting teams such as teams in the English Premier League and La Liga in Spain, as well as sponsoring some of the world’s biggest sporting events.
If you are going to play at an online casino in Malaysia, it is essential to use the second type of site listed above. Not only are these sites completely legal internationally, but they are also highly regulated and run in an extremely professional manner. If you choose to play at a Malaysian based website, you are entering the Wild West of online gaming. These sites have no regulators, are illegal here and might well be rigging their games to give you a 0% chance of ever winning. Stay safe and only play at those sites based overseas.
As a start, the Philippines is a good country to look to for legal gambling sites. Their special economic zone – Cagayan Freeport – only licenses major companies that have a strong financial backing. Their regulator is named First Cagayan. First Cagayan requires all their licensees to use respected auditors. These auditors regularly test the random number generator (RNG) and key software components of the casinos they regulate in order to ensure games are not in any way faulty or unfair. The goal is to be certain that the games we play on the net are completely random and fair to the player – the same as we would find in a live casino.
Most companies licensed by First Cagayan market to all of Asia. They operate in multiple Asian languages and currencies including our own Malaysian ringgit (MYR). The majority of these companies now accept deposits via bank wire to their Malaysian bank account. The two best casinos meeting this description are listed below.
Both Bodog88 and Dafa888 hold several Malaysian bank accounts, meaning making your first deposit is a piece of cake. I’ve found the easiest accounts to use are Public Bank, Hong Leong Bank, CIMB and Maybank. Even if you use a different bank, it is still easy enough to make a transfer. After depositing you can then cash out the same way whenever you want to withdraw your balance.
As mentioned at the start of this article, these options are far safer than using illegal Malay casinos. Not only are they highly regulated, but they are also major companies. Dafa88 is part of Dafabet who are the official betting partners of Everton FC (I’m assuming all you guys are English Premier League fans like myself). Dafabet are also title sponsors of World Snooker’s Players Tour Championship.
Bodog has been in the casino software industry since 1994. Bodog88 is their Asian brand. They also own and operate Bodog.ca in Canada and Bovada in the USA. Both of these sites have been online since 2001 and boast an impeccable reputation in the industry.
In Malaysia we have several forms of legal gambling. We are the only Islamic majority nation with legal casino gambling. About a one hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands can be reached. This is located in the Titiwangsa Mountains between the states of Pahang and Selangor. Here, there is plenty to do, with theme parks, golf, archery, pool, concerts, shows and much more all available to locals and tourists alike. The highlight of course is Casino de Genting where our country’s only three legal casinos Monte Carlo, Hollywood, and StarWorld are located.
In addition to casinos, Malaysia also has pari-mutuel betting on horse racing and three legal lottery companies of Sports Toto, Magnum 4D and Pan Malaysian Pools. Each of these companies offers multiple scheduled draws. 4D has long been the most popular. However, Sports Toto has massive prizes available in Supreme 6/58 and Power 6/55. Pan Malaysian Pools has 3D which is the easiest lotto game to win (by easy I mean it’s got the best odds – winning any lottery is obviously extremely difficult).
Genting Highlands Resort plays home to all kinds of entertainment facilities with casino gambling being the number one draw
The shrewd readers out there might be scratching their heads and thinking: “Isn’t this a lot of talk about gambling given the fact that Malaysia is an Islamic Nation”? The answer to this is both yes and no, but there is a major catch. Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia requires all ethnic Malays be Muslim. There is no exception to this; 100% of Malays are Muslim. As a result they are subject to Islamic Law and therefore cannot gamble.
If you are not familiar with the laws that apply to Muslims take a look at the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act, 1997. Here you will find the penalties for many crimes including wrongful worship, failure to perform Friday prayers, enticing a female person, preventing a married couple from cohabitation, sexual intercourse out of wedlock, and many similar offences. Section 18 of this Act sets the punishment for gambling or simply being found inside a casino (even if not gambling). The penalty is an up to a three thousand ringgit fine and/or up to two years in prison.
Each state also has its own laws and an Islamic Religious Affairs Department to help enforce Sharia law. It is also possible for states to create their own Syariah criminal offence laws to increase, but not reduce, the penalties the federal laws stipulate.
In short, while we have a lot of legal gambling here, it is not available to the 60% of our population that are ethnic Malay. It is available to the remaining 40% of our population which is mostly Chinese, as well as our other ethnic minorities and tourists. If you fall into this 40% you are subject to the laws covered below.
The primary gambling law applying to non-Muslims is Malaysia’s Betting Act. This was first created in 1953 which was prior to our independences from the United Kingdom. It was however amended many times, most recently in 2006, and that link is the most recent copy.
What players need to be aware of is that unlawful gambling carries a penalty of up to six months imprisonment, or a fine of up to RM3000; or both. Playing online casino games is technically illegal, but our police are not in the slightest bit concerned when this is done at home and in private, using foreign gambling sites. This is why it is important to avoid domestic online casinos that operate illegally.
If you are looking for the safest options, using our 3 lottery companies, betting at the official racing tote, and playing at Casino de Genting are the 3 options that are completely legal under our national laws. While playing online is still something of a grey area, thousands of Malaysians do it on a daily basis without any consequences. While there is a greater than zero risk involved, for the most part it is something that can be enjoyed safely from your own home. Of course, we do advise you be discreet.