It can sometimes be a little tough to get your head around exactly what the legal situation regarding gambling is in any given country and Malaysia is no different.
Online betting in Malaysia is straightforward so check out the key facts about the current legal situation below. Where possible we’ll also suggest Malaysia friendly betting sites where you can open a betting account if living in the region.
Malaysia Betting Sites: Top Asian Bookie
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Betting Act (1953) states any gambling licenced and approved by government is legal.
One large land based casino, horse race betting and lotteries all legal.
Banks and internet cafe owners can be punished for facilitating online gambling.
As yet players have not been punished for online gambling.
Players from Malaysia should use an e-wallet to hide their online gaming transactions.
Gambling Law & Legislation Timeline
The above key points should give a good overview of the general situation regarding gambling in Malaysia. For a more in-depth explanation, however, we also include the below timeline of the country’s major gambling legislation:
1952 – Lotteries Act
The 1952 Lotteries Act allowed for the legal operation of lotteries in Malaysia under the authority of the Social and Welfare Services Lotteries Board. Originally all legal lotteries in Malaysia were government run but the three currently existing providers have been privately owned since 1985.
1953 – Betting Act
Malaysia’s Betting Act of 1953 is the single most important piece of legislation when it comes to gambling within the country. This act was most recently amended in 2006 and essentially makes all gambling illegal by stipulating that:
any person who bets or wagers in a common betting house, or with a bookmaker on any premises or by any means, shall be guilty of an offence.
The act does also state, however, that this does not apply to any approved or licensed gambling activities – which at the time would have meant lotteries due to the act passed the previous year.
1953 – Common Gaming House Act
As a complement to the aforementioned exception included within the Betting Act, the Common Gaming House Act was also passed in 1953. This act meant that:
the Minister of Finance may, in his discretion, by licence authorize a company registered under the Companies Act…to promote and organize gaming.
It was this, therefore, which allowed the Malaysian government to authorise construction and operation of the nation’s single large casino at ‘Resorts World Genting’ in the Titiwangsa Mountains between the states of Pahang and Selangor.
1961 – Racing (Totalizator Board) Act
As a means of legalising another form of gambling which had been prohibited since 1953, the Racing (Totalizator Board) Act was passed in 1961. This act made pari-mutuel horse racing betting legal as long as it was undertaken at the country’s race courses themselves.
1996 – Penang’s Syriah Criminal Offences Enactment of 1996
Each of Malaysia’s 13 different states has passed its own legislation relating to what constitute specific crimes under Islamic Sharia Law for their Muslim population. These laws do not apply to the non-ethnic Malay population but do set down the potential punishment for any Muslims found to be gambling. These punishments can differ from state to state but are typically quite harsh.
2010 – Change of Mind?
In 2010, a company named Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd was widely expected to be granted Malaysia’s first licence for online sports betting. There were soon protests from the country’s Muslim community, however, and the licence never materialised, with the government claiming that it was never going to be granted in the first place. In spite of this, there does remain a significant sector of Malaysian society which supports the legalisation of sports betting.
Do Players Get Taxed On Winnings?
Providers of legal and licensed gambling in Malaysia, such as the lottery operators and the company owning the nation’s one casino, are subject to payment of a number of different types of tax. These include a so-called ‘Goods and Services Tax’, a ‘Gaming Tax’ and a ‘Betting and Sweepstakes Duty’.
Punters who take advantage of those legal forms of gambling, however, are fortunately not charged any tax at all on winnings. With online gambling being illegal in Malaysia, too, there is no mechanism by which the state could charge tax on that activity.
Online Deposit Options & Methods
There are no two ways about it; online gambling is illegal in Malaysia. Many citizens, however, do still do it and a number of notable overseas based online gambling providers do cater for Malaysian customers. Those Malaysian punters who do use overseas based sites to gamble, however, often find their options for depositing money quite limited.
Malaysian banks, for instance, routinely block bank transfers and debit or credit card deposits to gambling sites and many UK based bookmakers also do not accept card payments from Malaysian accounts. In order to circumvent these problems, punters often use e-wallet services such as Skrill in order to deposit or set up an account through Entropay in order to garner a virtual Visa card.