Malaysia is a country of complex gambling laws, predominantly because of the Muslim population. The country has several casinos including the Resorts World Genting, an integrated hill resort development where Hollywood Casino, Monte Carlo Casino, and StarWorld casinos are. The existence of casinos does not guarantee that the locals are free to bet on any games when they like. The Malaysian government is serious in their crackdown of those who will violate their laws. There have been several arrests in the past particularly those that are caught engaging in illegal gambling.
The Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 and the Betting Act of 1953 define the laws that govern gaming houses and illegal betting in Malaysia, respectively. The act’s main purpose is to suppress the existence of betting houses and gambling in public places. It details the penalties and sanctions for those who choose to ignore the law.
Based on the Betting Act, those who engage in unlawful gambling may be subject to a fine of not more than 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit or imprisonment of not more than six months, or both. The act also stipulates the legal forms of gambling accepted by the government. Those caught to operate, promote, and have any hand in the administration and marketing of the gambling businesses or casino-like games are also subject to stricter penalties. Despite the law, Malaysia allows several legal forms of gambling including lottery and pari-mutuel betting on horse races.
However, the aforementioned legal forms of betting only apply to Chinese, Christians, and tourists. While Malaysia is a culturally diverse country, a large part of the population is Muslims. The Malaysian law also stipulated that all ethnic-Malays are Sunni Muslim. This means they are under Islamic Law, which strongly prohibits gambling. Take note that even Muslim tourists are expected to heed to the law.
Non-Muslims in Malaysia are free to engage in many different types of gambling. Horse race betting, which began in colonial times, is one legal gambling activity. Its legalities are contained in the Racing (Totalizator Board) Act of 1961, legalising all pari-mutuel horse race betting hosted by Malaysia’s racecourses. Foreigners, however, must be cautious to only bet on betting houses that are duly licensed.
Under the Lotteries Act of 1952, the lottery is a lawful gambling activity. The act allows lotteries to operate legally in the country provided they are under the Social and Welfare Services Lotteries Board. Since 1986, all of the existing lottery businesses in Malaysia are now privately owned.
Non-Muslims can also try their luck at the casinos in the country. There is only one legal casino in Malaysia, the Casino de Genting, founded by Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong in 1969. The casino mainly caters to ethnic Chinese merchants that migrated to the country at the start of the 19th century.
Internet casinos in Malaysia may not be a legal gambling activity in Malaysia. But many locals have found their way to still play. Casino de Genting offers Internet casino but they are technically inaccessible to Malaysian players. Those who want to legally play internet casino may do so by playing on internationally licensed websites. The country may not have hard and fast rules about online gaming but the government finds a way to limit the local’s access to it by limiting bank transactions to online casinos.
To curb gambling addiction, the Malaysian government announced that they will no longer grant casino licenses. This means that the only legal casino in the country is the Genting Group’s integrated hill resort Casino de Genting located at the Genting Highlands in Pahang. The casino is only 50 kilometres away from Kuala Lumpur and is easily accessible by train. It is also about an hour drive by car. Those who want to visit the resort can play roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat, Pai Gown, Ponton, and slot machines. The Malaysian casino landscape features 426 table games and 3,140 slot machines. The casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Founded in 1864, Penang Turf Club is the oldest in Malaysia. Its first location was in Macalister Road before it was transferred to its current address on Batu Gantong Road. It has a 1,900-metre long and 24-metre wide race track built on a 270-acre lot. The three-story grandstand can sit up to 14,000 individuals.
The Penang Turf Club host horse races all year round every Saturday and Sunday. An entrance fee of RM6 is charged for visitors. Air-conditioned viewing terraces are also available for RM20 both for on-course and off-course terraces. The club also offers special rates for tourist in groups of 20 or more. Visitors are advised to follow a smart casual dress code.
The club accepts the following types of bets: Win, Place, Quinella, Exacta, QPS (Quinella Special) Forecast 3 (Trifecta) Trio, and Forecast 4 (Quartet).
In addition to horse racing, visitors can also play a round of golf at the 18-hole golf course.
Located at the Racecourse Jalan Tambun, the Perak Turf Club opened in 1926. It boasts of a 1,800-metre long and 21-metre wide cow-grass turfed racetrack. The club also features a sand track for barrier trials and horse training. The sand training track has 1,450-metre long and 12-metre wide washed river sand surface for fast and slow work, the polo sand track features 1,000-metre long and 12-metre wide washed river sand for slow work, and the temple sand has a 400-metre long and 6-metre wide washed river sand. Polo pieces of training are available every Wednesdays and Fridays while Barrier trials are available every Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 am to 10:00 am.
The grandstand built in 1971 can accommodate 15,000 spectators. Visitors pay an admission charge of RM5.70. Those who want to avail of the air-conditioned boxes are charged RM10.70 for off-course boxes and RM15.50 for on-course boxes. Spacious corporate boxes are also available or rent. It features floor-to-ceiling windows for a panoramic view of the racecourse, large screen televisions, washroom, and tote seller.
Perak Turf Club also has an equine hospital that offers facilities for herd health (vaccination, deworming, etc), surgical services (castration and hospitalisation), clinical and medical services (diagnostic and therapeutic services).
The Selangor Turf Club has a rich history. The club started amateur race fans as early as the late 1800s when they would gather to engage in horse racing. Before it moved to the Sungei Besi section of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor Turf Club occupied Jalan Ampang. The club also features the STC Equestrian and Sports Centre that offers both private and group lessons whether it be for recreation or for competitive riding.
The newly renovated racecourse features a modern facility that can host 25,000 race fans. The races run all year round every weekend. It features a 2,000-metre long and 30-metre wide track turfed with a hearty patented grass, El-Toro Zoysia that can withstand mighty hoofs over again. The Selangor Turf Club is unique among the three racetracks as it runs left-handed, allowing a horse to maintain cornering speeds by reducing centrifugal force.
Win, Place, Quinella, Exacta, QPS (Quinella Special) Forecast 3 (Trifecta) Trio, and Forecast 4 (Quartet) are all accepted bets in the club. One can bet for as low as RM2. The club also accepts off-track betting via the following establishments:
Kelab Rekreasi Honey Line
Address: 3rd Floor, Anchor Lot, Kompleks Desa Kepong 52100 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: +603-6277 7112
Technically, online gambling in Malaysia is illegal. However, many locals avoid prosecution because they can comfortably access online gambling sites at the comfort of their private homes. The country does not have any clear-cut regulations that pertain to online gambling. Locals who want to try online gambling can simply set up an online account and fund it via online deposit or direct bank transfer. Withdrawal of winnings can also be done through the same methods. Players are strongly advised to use an e-wallet so the government cannot track their online gaming transactions.
Aside from online casinos that offer card and table games, Malaysians also heavily visit online football betting sites. Many still engage in this gambling through foreign bookmakers that accept Malaysian ringgit as the currency. To stay on the safe side, those living in Malaysia are advised against betting on Asian bookies as this may lead to arrests. Online betting sites licensed by the European Union who does not have any Asian agents is the safest route.