History of Sports Betting

A History of Sports Betting in Malaysia: From Bookmakers to Online Sportsbooks

Sports betting has a rich history in Malaysia, dating back to the colonial era. Today, sports betting is a popular form of online gambling and has evolved with the rise of online sportsbooks. In this article, we will explore the history of sports betting in Malaysia, its legality, popular sports for betting, challenges, and regulations for consumer protection.

History of Sports Betting


Sports betting is a form of gambling that involves bettors placing wagers on the outcome of sporting events. It has become a popular pastime among gamblers in Malaysia, with a growing number of sportsbooks offering online betting services. In this section, we will define sports betting, explore its popularity in Malaysia, and discuss its legality.

Definition of Sports Betting

Sports betting involves placing a wager on the outcome of a sporting event. This can range from simple bets on the winner of a match to more complex wagers on specific outcomes or scores. Sports betting can be done in person at a physical sportsbook or online through a sports betting website or betting app, and bets can be in the form of live betting or in-play betting.

The Popularity of Sports Betting in Malaysia

Sports betting is a popular form of entertainment in Malaysia, with many people enjoying placing wagers on their favorite sports teams and events. Football, badminton, horse racing, basketball, and eSports are some of the most popular sports for betting in Malaysia.

Legality of Sports Betting in Malaysia

Sports betting is a heavily regulated industry in Malaysia, with the government controlling most aspects of it. The Betting Act 1953 and the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 are the primary laws governing sports betting in Malaysia. While land-based sports betting is legal in Malaysia, online sports betting is considered illegal.

Traditional Sports Betting in Malaysia

The history of sports betting in Malaysia can be traced back to the colonial era when horse racing was introduced to the country. Over the years, sports betting evolved, and bookmakers and the Tote Board became popular. In this section, we will explore the origins of sports betting in Malaysia, the role of bookmakers and the Tote Board, and the evolution of sports betting.

Origins of Sports Betting in Malaysia

Horse racing was introduced to Malaysia by the British in the late 1800s. It quickly became a popular pastime, and bookmakers began accepting bets on the races. The first legal betting outlets were set up in the 1960s, offering a range of betting options on horse racing.

Bookmakers and the Tote Board

Bookmakers played a significant role in the early days of sports betting in Malaysia. They were responsible for setting the odds and accepting bets from customers. In the 1960s, the Tote Board was introduced as a way to regulate sports betting and ensure fair play. The Tote Board offered pool betting, where all bets were combined and shared among the winners.

Evolution of Sports Betting in Malaysia

Over the years, sports betting in Malaysia has evolved with the introduction of new technologies and betting options. The number of sports and events available for betting has also increased, with a focus on football and horse racing.

The Emergence of Online Sportsbooks

With the rise of the internet and advancements in technology, online sports betting has become increasingly popular in Malaysia. In this section, we will explore the introduction of online sportsbooks, their advantages, and the growth of online sports betting in Malaysia.

Introduction of Online Sportsbooks in Malaysia

The introduction of online sportsbooks in Malaysia can be traced back to the early 2000s, when international bookmakers started offering their services to Malaysian customers through the internet. Initially, these online sportsbooks operated in a legal grey area, as there were no specific laws governing online sports betting.

However, in 2010, the Malaysian government introduced the Common Gaming Houses Act, a gambling law which aimed to curb illegal gambling activities, including online sports betting and online casinos. Despite this, sports betting sites continued to thrive in Malaysia, as many international sportsbooks continued to operate in the country, and local bookmakers also started offering online betting services.

Advantages of Online Sportsbooks

One of the main advantages of online sportsbooks is convenience. Punters can place bets on their favourite sports from the comfort of their own homes or perform mobile betting from anywhere using their phones, without having to visit a physical bookmaker. Additionally, online sportsbooks offer a wider range of sports and betting markets than traditional bookmakers, allowing punters to bet on a variety of events from around the world.

Online sportsbooks also provide punters with a variety of tools and features to enhance their betting experience. For example, many sportsbooks offer live streaming of matches and races, allowing punters to watch events in real-time and make more informed live betting decisions. This would also allow bettors to check back on past results and perform analysis for better betting decisions. 

Besides that, online sportsbooks can offer a variety of bonuses and promotions, including welcome bonuses, first deposit bonuses, and cashbacks.

Growth of Online Sports Betting in Malaysia

The growth of online sports betting in Malaysia has been significant in recent years. According to a report by Statista, the value of the sports betting market in Malaysia was estimated to be around RM4.4 billion in 2020, with online sports betting accounting for a significant portion of this market.

This growth can be attributed to several factors, including the increasing popularity of sports in Malaysia, the convenience and accessibility of online sportsbooks, and the proliferation of mobile devices and internet connectivity in the country.

As online sports betting continues to grow in popularity in Malaysia, it is likely that more local and international sportsbooks will enter the market, offering punters a wider range of options and betting opportunities.

Sports betting in Malaysia has a rich history, and today, Malaysians enjoy betting on a wide range of sports. Here are some of the most popular and best sports for betting in Malaysia:


Football is the most popular sport in Malaysia, and as such, it is the most popular sport for sports betting. Malaysians are passionate about football and support their favourite teams with great fervor. Local and international football matches draw a lot of attention, and sportsbooks offer a wide range of football betting options for these events. Football has some of the most popular tournaments to bet on, which include the English Premier League and World Cup.


Badminton is a popular sport in Malaysia, with the country having produced some of the world’s best players. The country’s love for badminton extends to sports betting, with fans placing bets on major international and local badminton events.

Horse Racing

Horse racing is a popular sport in Malaysia, and there are two horse racing tracks in the country, the Penang Turf Club and the Selangor Turf Club. Horse racing fans can also bet on international horse racing events.


Basketball has gained popularity in Malaysia, and the sport has a growing fan base. As basketball gains traction in the country, so too does basketball betting. Fans can bet on major international basketball events as well as local basketball leagues such as the NBA.


eSports is a rapidly growing industry in Malaysia, with the country producing top players in the global scene. Malaysians are increasingly interested in eSports, and sportsbooks have taken notice, offering betting options on major eSports events.

Challenges in Sports Betting in Malaysia

Sports betting in Malaysia faces several challenges, which affect both the industry and the consumers. Here are some of the main challenges in sports betting in Malaysia:

The Impact of Illegal Sports Betting

Illegal sports betting is a significant challenge in Malaysia, with many unlicensed bookmakers operating in the country. These illegal bookmakers offer betting options on sports events, including major international events. Illegal sports betting not only harms the legal sports betting industry but also exposes consumers to risks such as fraud, non-payment of winnings, and potential legal issues.

Corruption and Match Fixing

Corruption and match-fixing are issues that plague the sports industry globally, and Malaysia is not immune. Match-fixing is a major problem in football, and Malaysian football has had its fair share of match-fixing scandals. Match-fixing undermines the integrity of the sport and affects the trust that consumers have in the sports betting industry.

Addiction and Social Issues

Sports betting, like all forms of gambling, can lead to addiction and social issues. In Malaysia, sports betting addiction can have severe consequences, including financial ruin and strained relationships. The government and the sports betting industry must work together to promote responsible gambling practices and raise awareness of the potential risks of sports betting.

Regulations and Consumer Protection

The Malaysian government regulates sports betting in the country to protect consumers and promote responsible gambling. Here are some of the key regulatory and consumer protection measures in place:

Malaysian Regulatory Bodies

The Malaysian government regulates sports betting through the Ministry of Finance and the Malaysian Totalisator Board. These bodies are responsible for licensing and regulating legal sports betting operators in the country.

Consumer Protection and Responsible Gaming Measures

Sports betting operators in Malaysia are required to implement responsible gaming measures, such as self-exclusion and deposit limits, to protect consumers from the potential risks of sports betting. Sportsbooks also have a responsibility to provide accurate and transparent information about betting odds and potential payouts.

Future Regulatory Developments

The Malaysian government may implement new regulations for the sports betting industry, especially for online sportsbooks. The focus could be on licensing, regulation, consumer protection, and responsible gaming standards. The government may also regulate advertising and promotion of sports betting services to protect children and vulnerable adults. Another challenge is the issue of illegal sports betting, which may be addressed through increased enforcement and public education.


In conclusion, sports betting has a long and interesting history in Malaysia, from its early beginnings with bookmakers and the tote board, to the emergence of online sportsbooks. Despite the challenges faced by the industry, such as illegal sports betting and corruption, the popularity of sports betting in Malaysia continues to grow, particularly with the rise of online sports betting and the availability of various sports to bet on.

The Future of Sports Betting in Malaysia

The future of sports betting in Malaysia looks promising, with the government taking steps to regulate the industry and protect consumers, while also providing a safe and enjoyable betting environment. It is expected that sports betting will continue to be a major part of the Malaysian gambling scene, with more people turning to online bookmakers and new technologies, such as mobile apps and live streaming, making the experience more convenient and engaging.

Final Thoughts on the History of Sports Betting in Malaysia.

Ultimately, the history of sports betting in Malaysia reflects the country’s love for sports and gambling, and its ability to adapt and evolve with changing times and technologies. As long as there are sports fans and betting enthusiasts in Malaysia, sports betting will continue to thrive in the country.