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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15, 2015:

Malaysians can easily gamble from their work places, at home or even on smartphones without anyone being aware that they are actually doing so. This is partly thanks to online gambling sites operated by locals, seemingly to compete with foreign betting websites, intent on a share of the lucrative industry. A simple Google search for Malaysia online casinos will produce a long list of “local” online gambling sites.

Anyone can sign up with a deposit from as little as RM30, making them take the first step towards cultivating a gambling addiction. The gambling sites are linked to local Malaysian companies registered with Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM). These companies receive the money deposited by gamblers into their accounts in local banks, via online transfers and automated teller machines. A check with SSM revealed that these companies were operating as legitimate businesses, such as an air conditioning workshop or computer stores. Deposits are generally accepted into these company accounts as local banks as they do not raise suspicion.

Normally, banks would decline direct money transfer or withdrawals from organisations that seem to be casinos, poker website operators or sports betting websites. Potential customers are usually enticed to sign up with a bonus which can only be withdrawn after they have met the conditions, with a rollover requirement that depends on the value of the bonus. Customers enter their banking details at the casino website and their account balance will be updated promptly for the customers to wager. A “free-to-play” version of their games is usually offered to familiarise new players with online gambling and make them feel comfortable about betting with real money. The minimum stake depends on the particular game or product. These are usually divided into four categories — horse racing, lottery, sportsbook and live casino. Gamblers can submit a request and their winnings will be transferred directly to their bank account, usually within a day. The gambling sites often boast having cutting edge gambling software, 24-hour live support and security measures to provide the thrill of live casinos anywhere, anytime. According to a gambling portal, Asiabet.org, any Internet casinos claiming to operate from Malaysia were 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,” it stated. Another gambling portal, www.intensegambling.com, stated that existing legislation had not been amended to address online gambling. No specific Internet-gaming legislation is in place. It also stated that Malaysian players could gamble online without any hassle and there had been no cases of individuals being prosecuted or a clampdown on gambling online.

However, news reports often show police regularly shutting down illegal gambling dens disguised as Internet cafes. Physical, or live, gambling in Malaysia is regulated under the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953. The Civil Law Act 1956 states that any agreement by way of gaming or wagering will be null and void and cannot be taken to court. There are no fully licensed, legal online gambling sites in Malaysia.

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