Report No. 276
6.46 As the official religion of Malaysia is Islam, the authorities have been adhering to the prohibition on gambling as stipulated by the teachings of Islam175. First and foremost all Malay Muslims are governed by the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997176, Section 18 thereof punishes for gambling or simply being found inside a casino (even when not actually gambling).
For citizens not governed by the Syariah Criminal Act, the Malaysian Contract Act177, 1950 forms an impediment. The Act stipulates that any agreement by way of wager is void with the exception of certain prizes for horse-racings178. Nevertheless, there are provisions whereby legal licensing is provided either to the private companies or individuals for gambling activities.
6.47 The primary legislations that regulate gambling activities in Malaysia are:
- Betting Act, 1953 outlaws all possible forms of gambling and regulating telecommunications and other means of transmitting bets between customers and betting houses.
- Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 suppresses common gaming houses, public gaming, and public lotteries The Act criminalises operating a gaming house. It also provides for penal consequences for a person who is caught inside a gaming house.
- Pool Betting Act 1967 provides for the issue of a licence and the establishment of a Board for the operation or promotion of pool betting and for matters incidental thereto. The Act enables the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Head of State of the Country) to establish a Board for the governing of pool betting activities and for such other purposes stated in the Act.
- Lotteries Act 1952 provides for the grant of permits for the promotion of public and private lotteries for philanthropic, religious, educational, welfare and other charitable purposes, to make provision for the levy of a tax on lotteries and other matters connected therewith.
- Racing Club (Public Sweepstakes) Act 1965 allows for betting on Horse-racing in Malaysia, provided the racing club is established in Malaysia; the racing club is registered in the name of Malayan Racing Club. Sweepstakes under the Act includes any sweepstake promoted on the outcome of horse-race. Even a non-member of the Club can take part in such sweepstakes.
6.48 In 2016, the total gambling revenue of Malaysia was valued at US$1,805.29 million179.