3/25/10 – Malaysia is a country well known for the strict enforcement of anti-gambling laws, but there may be a change to allow for World Cup football betting this year, reports the Bangkok Post.
The newspaper reports that Prime Minister Najib Razak told the New Straits Times that Malaysia plans to review proposals to legalise sports betting ahead of the World Cup finals in South Africa mid-year.
"There are proposals, but we will see first," Razak was quoted.
The report revealed that the Berjaya Group, a major Malaysian conglomerate with holdings ranging from lottery to casino operations, was seeking approval from the government to operate sports betting activities in the country.
Illegal betting on football is rife in Malaysia and the World Cup is expected to see a surge with millions of dollars changing hands.
The Berjaya Group made a similar proposal several years ago, but then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi shot down the request. Gambling is forbidden in Islam and Malaysia has a large Muslim population.
A senior Malaysian sports official, on condition of anonymity, told Agence France Presse that the government could channel the revenue generated from legalising betting to promote sports.
The official, however, cautioned that it would not eradicate match-fixing.
"The fight against match-fixing is never ending. By legalising betting, it will not totally eradicate match-fixing. What we need to do is to remain vigilant," he said.