Malaysia is the only country in Southeast Asia that has both a government and a private sector with a strong inclination towards gaming and online gambling. A number of private members are involved in online casino development and Malaysia is home to some of the largest multi-national online casino companies in the world. The development and management of these gambling websites is a responsibility shared by the government and the private sector. In this article, we will identify the legal framework for online gambling in Malaysia, outline the policies regarding online casino operations and the regulation of gambling by Malaysian authorities. In so doing, we hope that you will have a better understanding of how the law works when it comes to online casino development in Malaysia.
Online casinos in Malaysia are operated by government-recognized and licensed casinos. Government-recognized casinos are recognized by the Department of Internal Security (DIIS) as well as the Law Society. These associations are responsible for the regulation of all matters related to internal government administration including online gaming by government institutions. The law on online gambling in Malaysia that covers both the government and the private sector can be found at the Law Reporters Association of Malaysia (LRAOM).
The Gambling Act 2021 was introducing to address issues surrounding online casino development in Malaysia. Among other things, the act bans online casinos from using capital or credit from a bank account in contravention of anti-money laundering and control measures regulations and authorizes the Customs and Excise Service to prohibit the importation of gambling devices. It also authorizes the government to prohibit the transfer of gambling software to any person or place in contravention of anti-money laundering and control measures regulations. As the law is a complex one, there are currently three legal interpretations of the Act based on the Malaysian Malay legal system. These legal interpretations are discussed below:
The Anti-Money Laundering and Control Act 2021, otherwise referred to as the AMLCA, is an updated version of the earlier Casino Law. This was brought into effect in January 2021 with amendments and revisions to the current Act. The new provisions of the Act to regulate the activities of online casinos, including their financial, advertising and promotional activities. The main features of the AMLCA are as follows:
The Financial Activities Regulations Act 2021 regulates the activities of online casinos in Malaysia. Part of the Act relates to online gambling; while Part of it deals with the registration, licensing, ownership and transactions of gambling operators. In Malaysia, there are currently two licensed online casinos in operation: One is the Regent’s Casino Complex on the Gulf Steering Island and the second is the Peninsula Hotel and Casino. Both of these gambling establishments are licensed by the Government to operate. The Regent’s has been operating since 2021 and the Peninsula Hotel and Casino was established in 2021.
The Internal Revenue Service of Malaysia protects the rights of individuals to engage in online gambling for profit or non-profit purposes. According to the PCGA, online casinos should not take any action that would limit a person’s enjoyment of his or her right to engage in online casino gambling for fun and recreation. As long as the online casino complies with applicable laws, online casinos are not held liable for other individuals who have a greater right to collect taxes from them.
The Internal Revenue Department enacts many policies and laws concerning online casinos and their related taxation. The Internal Revenue Services issued a Notice of Exceptions on the basis that online casinos fall under a different law system from that of land-based casinos. For instance, gambling takes place on an online casino platform, which is a separate entity from the casino itself. Despite the different structures and jurisdictions, however, the Government does impose similar laws over both online casino gaming and land-based gambling.
These days, the law covering online casinos in Malaysia is getting more complicated. Some sources say that there may be as many as 100 potential cases against online gamblers. Since the government has yet to release its stance on online gambling, there is no clarity on whether online casino operators are required to adhere to the same standards of conduct as other casinos. Until then, it is best to stick with licensed online casinos and avoid subjecting yourself to the whims of a Malaysia Casino Lawyer.