Lim Guan Eng, Malaysia’s Minister of Finance, has proclaimed that penalties for both bettors and betting operators will develop as part of the country’s 2020 budget.
The financial plan, introduced on Friday (11 October), also sets out that the number of four-digit lottery draws per year run by the Number Forecast Operators (NFO) will be reduced from 11 to eight.
The utmost penalty for those who wager illegally will be escalated 20-fold from RM5,000 (£943/$1,084/$1,193) to RM100,000. In addition, where formerly there was no sentence for gambling under the Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953, it will now carry a jail term of no less than six months.
For illicit betting operators, the least penalty of RM1m takes the place of the former lowest penalty of RM5,000. Operating illicit betting formerly carried a maximum penalty of RM50,000, but no maximum penalty is mentioned in the new budget.
With the omission of the NFO four-digit games, betting is against the law for all Malaysian citizens, but the country does allow foreigners to bet at the Genting Highlight Resort.
The inflation in penalties comes soon after Malaysian police announced the arrests of 247 people in connection with illicit China-facing online betting operations that authorities say took in RM24.8 (£4.8m/€5.4m/$5.9m) per month. The authorities seized RM 3.12bn worth of assets in the raids, which occurred between 25 September and 3 October.
The repression was the recent in a wave of moves against China-facing online betting across South-East Asia after similar repressions in Cambodia and the Philippines.
The allocation did not detail any modification to the upper limit on prison sentences for online bettors, which is also set at six months for players, or for illegal operators, for whom the highest censure is three years.
To become law, the budget will need to be passed by Parliament. But with budgets in the country treated as a matter of confidence, it is not anticipated to pretense difficulty in passing.