Online gambling is now confirmed illegal under Malaysia’s Common Gaming Houses Act 1953. The ruling was decided upon by the Malay Court of Appeal after two individuals, who were convicted for offenses tied to illegal gambling, questioned the court on whether a “common gaming house,” as defined in the country’s Common Gaming Houses Act 1953, also referred to locations where no gaming machines are utilized, and gameplay is achieved through the usage of computers.
Roseaini Johor, was caught operating a gaming house, and Rashid Mahmud, who was found to have gambled online illegally, referred to Section 2(d), where it is stated that any location where at least eight individuals partake in gaming, a banker’s game is played, or games are played at a financial cost is considered a “common gaming house.”
According to the judge of Melaka’s High Court, the act does not require gambling machines to be physically located within the premises of a given location for it to be a “common gaming house.” Justice Vazeer Alam stated that he, Justice Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim, and Justice Datuk S.M. Komathy Suppiah shared this view.
The Appellants’ Had Made an Appeal for their Convictions and Sentences to be Dismissed
Although Roseaini Johor and Rashid Mahmud had filed an appeal against their convictions and sentences, it was ultimately dismissed by Justice Vazeer Alam. Prior to the ruling, the now convicts’ lawyer, Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, made the argument that physical equipment such as roulette wheels, roulette balls, and roulette betting boards were necessary for online gambling to be considered an offense under Act 289’s Second Schedule. Deputy Public Prosecutor Nahra Dollah challenged this by saying that under the Common Gaming Houses Act, both online and land-based gambling was considered illegal, and that there was no legal distinction between the gambling methods. She continued, arguing that computers and laptops fell under the definition of “gaming machines” and that a location where remote gaming was done through a computer was a “common gaming house” as described in the act’s Section 2(d).
Roseaini Johor was served a five-month prison sentence in 2020 for operating an illegal gambling house. She was also required to pay a fine of RM10,000 (around $2,000). Her fine was later lowered to RM5,000 (roughly $1,000), and her prison sentence was shortened to four months and three weeks. As for Rashid Mahmud, he faced charges for partaking in remote gaming on a laptop. His punishment involved a one month prison sentence and a fine of RM3,000 (around $600). However, the fine was eventually raised to RM5,000, while his prison sentence was suspended.
The Malay Common Gaming Houses Act came into effect in 1953, and has since seen multiple amendments. There are forms of gambling that are legal within the country, but this refers strictly to specific brick-and-mortar establishments that have obtained the necessary licenses in order to operate legally.