Malaysian Police Dismantle Online Gambling Operation as Crackdown Continues in Southeast Asia

Posted on: August 22, 2019, 03:37h. 

Last updated on: August 23, 2019, 02:22h.

Malaysian police have broken up an illicit online gaming operation which offered over 200 games,  arresting 100 Chinese nationals near Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim announced in March that authorities are getting tough with illegal online gambling in the capital city of Malaysia. This week, a police raid in the region led to the arrests of 101 suspects. (Image: The Star)

Altogether, police apprehended 83 men and 17 women, as well as a local woman. They face illegal gambling and immigration charges.

If convicted, the suspects could get anywhere from six months to five years in prison, BenarNews said.

Organizers of the syndicate had restricted the workers and ordered them to remain indoors. They apparently were fed each day.

Police seized 66 laptops, 23 personal computers, 555 mobile phones, 11 modems, and eight routers from the operation, BenarNews reported.

The virtual gambling was based in four rented houses located in the tony town of Mont Kiara, near Kuala Lumpur. The residences were part of a gated community protected by private security guards and closed-circuit security cameras, The Sun of Malaysia reported.

The syndicate targeted over 1,000 gamblers from China, whose ages ranged between 19 and 65. The Sun said that the operation duped users into thinking the casino-like games were easy to win and offered them large cash payouts.

News reports varied on the operation’s profits. The Sun said it earned more than RM18,000 ($4,301) a day. BenarNews said it was RM72,000 ($17,244) daily.

Gamblers paid the operation through online bank accounts or through such sites as WeChat Pay, police told the media. The operation was believed to be running online games since January, and authorities had it under surveillance for the past month.

Six police officers and 31 other officials took part in the raid.

Southeast Asia Makes it Harder to Gamble Online

This week’s raid comes as multiple Southeast Asian nations are closing or limiting online gambling operations under pressure from China.

Earlier this week, a government regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), stopped accepting applications for Philippines offshore gaming operator (POGO) licenses. The moratorium will last through at least the end of the year.

On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a news conference, “We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling.”

Also, Cambodia will stop giving out licenses for online gambling to curb criminal activity in Cambodia gaming operations, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency in China.

Last month, Alvin Chau, the CEO of SunCity Group, apologized to the mainland China government for running online gambling operations from the Philippines and Cambodia that allegedly targeted Chinese citizens.

This week’s raid in Malaysia is far from the only police action against illegal gambling in the nation. After a raid in March, Kuala Lumpur police chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim announced that police will continue to combat illegal online gambling in the Kuala Lumpur area.

Our efforts are continuous. We will go all out against online gambling,” Lazim was quoted by the Star.

Last September, Malaysian police reported some 22,000 arrests from more than 10,000 raids of illegal gambling operations in only eight months of the year.

The searches were conducted on illicit gambling dens. Authorities also searched lottery syndicates.

The numbers suggest last year’s totals were lower than the 12,628 raids and 24,338 arrests Malaysia saw during 2017.

Islam Forbids Gambling

Gambling is strictly forbidden in Islam, the primary religion of Malaysia. The nation is more than 60 percent Muslim in population, and its official religion is Islam.

It also has strict laws against such activity, except for the national lottery and the well-known casino, Resorts World Genting.