KUALA LUMPUR (June 15): Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said political patronage is involved in the prevalent illegal online gambling scene in Malaysia, which is a major constraint faced by his ministry, the police and the government in solving the issue.
“There is political patronage of our players. Affirmatively, there is. From there comes influence and protection. From there comes corruption and bribery. From there comes thin political will to fight this all the way,” Saifuddin told Members of Parliament on Thursday (June 15).
“The players are protected. They respond to their political master who protects them, so that no action is taken, and the police know this pattern exists,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat during the minister's question time.
Saifuddin said his ministry is working with the Ministry of Communications and Digital, which oversees the communication laws, as well as collaborating with Bank Negara Malaysia, because the payment method, transaction volume, source of funds and money laundering patterns are implicated in online gambling activities.
“We will review if patronage exists for the approval of new licences, and if it involves certain politicians,” he added.
In terms of legislation, Saifuddin said the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 and the Betting Act 1953 are outdated, and should be amended to strengthen the police’s case against online gambling syndicates in the court.
Saifuddin shared that there are more than 100 online gambling websites running currently. To indicate the extensiveness of the activity, he said it is estimated that RM200 million is involved in numbers gambling (judi ekor) in just a week.
“The online gambling operations are big and an organised criminal network. It is very sophisticated, and they have significant financial resources,” Saifuddin said.
He was responding to Datuk Ramanan Ramakrishnan (Pakatan Harapan-Sungai Buloh), who asked the Home Ministry to state measures taken to address online gambling activities, and whether the ministry has a live database of those involved.
The minister said the police team has an integrated police reporting system, and that as of May 2023, more than 2,000 websites have been blocked from access since 2021.
“Through this database, we have identified hierarchy syndicates and organised criminal networks. We can build up information of types of online gambling and their platforms, their operators, and the mastermind behind. We also know the trend of online gambling,” Saifuddin said.
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