Gambling Law in Malaysia: Are Online Casinos Illegal?

Technically, gambling in Malaysia is prohibited, with the exception of sports betting and horse racing. However, in reality, most Malaysians who gamble online do so without worry and do not experience any form of harassment or criminalization proceedings from government officials, nor do they experience any problems depositing, nor getting paid their winnings.

Moreover, international betting sites are under no obligation to share information with the Malaysian authorities, meaning those sites are Malaysian-friendly, as are the countries those sites are based within.

The Issues With Gambling Law in Malaysia

As a largely Muslim country, Malaysia’s government has a strict anti-gambling policy. The illegality of gambling within the nation is a result of the country’s Betting Act and Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953 legislation. While the wording of the laws makes it clear that land-based gambling is illegal, the wording in relation online gambling is hotly contested.

The two acts lack clarity and fail to specify how they to online gaming. While it clearly makes it illegal to operate a gambling establishment or host an internet site that offered gambling services, nothing in the law specifically states whether betting at an online gambling site is legal or illegal, making its interpretation up for debate.

The Betting Act and Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953 were written almost seven decades ago and naturally do not mention anything relating to online gaming. What’s worse is, that the country has failed to amend the Betting and Common Gaming Houses act and has simply opted to ignore the issue.

International betting sites have seen the countries’ refusal to amend their gambling laws as an open door and openly accept customers from Malaysia. The interpretation of the betting act has allowed Malaysians searching for a trusted online casino in Malaysia an endless number of options.

To gain a deeper understanding of Malaysia’s gambling law, it might prove beneficial to take a closer look at the Betting Act and Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953.

General Gambling Laws in Malaysia

While Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country, it does not adhere to sharia law and therefore, some forms of gambling are legal. Namely, the Lotteries Act of 1952 legalises lotteries, while the Racing Act of 1961 legalizes horse racing. As all other forms of gambling are governed by the Betting Act and Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953.

Betting Act 1953

The Betting Act 1953 addresses and governs all forms of gambling within the jurisdictional boundaries of Malaysia. The act itself includes provisions for telecommunications and the transmitting of bets between betting houses and customers and is written in such a way that closes any loopholes

Provisions within the act specifically state that any found to be operating a gaming house with face five years in jail and a fine of up to 200,000 ringgits. The problem with the act and the provisions for telecommunications and the transmitting of bets between betting houses and customers is whether online gambling falls within that definition.

Essentially, the Betting Act defines a betting house as one of the following:

  •  Any establishment used for the purpose of betting or wagering, whether for cash or credit on a sporting event, horse race or lottery to which the public has access.
  •  Any establishment used by a bookmaker for the sole purpose to accept or negotiate wagers by hand or through an agent, telephone, telegram or other means.

Common Gaming Houses Act 1953

The Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 specifically related to the criminalization of operating a gaming house and being found inside one. It states that any person found inside a gambling establishment who is playing a game of chance or skill for money is subject to six months in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 ringgits.

Is Online Gambling in Malaysia Worth It?

It remains to be seen whether the gambling laws in Malaysia will adapt to the modern-day evolution of internet gambling. There has been a push in Malaysia to update its laws and ban online gambling within the country outright, although nothing concrete has come of the calls. While it remains very unlikely that end users will be prosecuted en masse in Malaysia for participation in online gambling anytime soon, there are some risks associated if you decide to avail the services of an online sportsbook or casino and only you can decide if the reward outweighs the risk.