An Overview of Gambling in Malaysia

Gambling is a popular activity in many parts of the world, and Malaysia is no exception. However, gambling is a complex and controversial issue in Malaysia, with a variety of laws and regulations governing the practice. In this article, we will provide an overview of gambling in Malaysia, including the legal status of gambling, the types of legalised and illegal gambling, online gambling, sports betting, casino gambling, social attitudes towards gambling, and the future of gambling in Malaysia.

Legal Status of Gambling in Malaysia

Gambling Laws in Malaysia

In Malaysia, gambling is generally considered illegal. The relevant laws can be found in the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 and the Betting Act 1953, laws which are enforced by the Malaysian Royal Police, who conduct regular raids to crack down on illegal gambling activities. These laws prohibit any form of gambling behaviour in public places or in private homes, with the exception of a few authorised forms of gambling.

Types of Legalised Gambling in Malaysia

Despite the laws against gambling, certain types of gambling are legal in Malaysia. The legal form of gambling in Malaysia includes the lottery, horse racing, sports betting, and certain types of casino activities such as blackjack, all of which are operated by the government. The only legal casino in Malaysia is located in Genting Highlands, Kuala Lumpur.

Illegal Gambling in Malaysia

Illegal gambling is widespread in Malaysia, with a range of activities taking place in both rural and urban areas. These activities include illegal casino providers, illegal lotteries, and illegal online gambling. Other popular forms of illegal gambling in Malaysia include cockfighting, dog racing, and illegal betting houses.

Consequences of Illegal Gambling in Malaysia

The consequences of illegal gambling in Malaysia can be severe. Individuals who are caught gambling illegally can face fines and imprisonment, and there have been cases of individuals being caned for gambling-related offences. Illegal gambling operations can also face significant penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Online Gambling in Malaysia

Legal Status of Online Gambling in Malaysia

Online gambling is illegal in Malaysia under the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953. Despite this, many Malaysians still participate in online gambling activities, often using foreign-based online casinos and sportsbooks.

Popular Online Gambling Sites in Malaysia

Some of the most popular online gambling sites in Malaysia include 888casino, Bet365, and 22bet. These sites offer a variety of games and sports betting options, and are easily accessible to Malaysian gamblers.

Sports Betting in Malaysia

Legal Status of Sports Betting in Malaysia

Sports betting is another form of gambling that is largely considered illegal in Malaysia. However, there are a few authorised sports betting outlets that are operated by the government, such as Sports Toto. These outlets are typically located at race tracks and offer bets on horse races and other sporting events.

Popular Sports to Bet on in Malaysia

Football is by far the most popular sport to bet on in Malaysia, with many Malaysians wagering on both local and international football matches. Other popular sports to bet on in Malaysia include basketball, badminton, and horse racing.

Casino Gambling in Malaysia

Legal Status of Casino Gambling in Malaysia Casino gambling is illegal in Malaysia, with the exception of the Resorts World Genting casino, which is located in the Genting Highlands and is the only legal casino in the country.

Popular Casinos in Malaysia

Resorts World Genting is the largest and most popular casino in Malaysia, offering a wide range of table games and slot machines. It is a popular destination for both local and international gamblers.

Lotteries in Malaysia

Lotteries are somewhat legal in Malaysia, although under strict regulation of the Lotteries Act. The Lotteries Act is a piece of legislation in Malaysia that governs lotteries and related activities in the country. The act was first enacted in 1952 and has since undergone several amendments to reflect changes in the gambling landscape in Malaysia.

How the Lotteries Act Works

Under the Lotteries Act, a lottery is defined as any scheme or arrangement where prizes are awarded by chance or by the outcome of a contingency. This includes traditional lotteries, where numbers are drawn randomly, as well as other games of chance, such as scratch cards and instant-win games.
The Lotteries Act sets out a number of requirements that must be met by lottery operators in Malaysia. For example, lottery operators must obtain a licence from the relevant authorities and comply with a range of regulatory requirements, including those related to the conduct of draws, the calculation of prizes, and the payment of taxes and duties.
In addition, the Lotteries Act prohibits certain types of lotteries in Malaysia. For example, it is illegal to operate a lottery that involves the drawing of numbers or the determination of winners based on the results of a horse race or any other sporting event. It is also illegal to operate a lottery that is promoted or conducted in a way that is likely to cause public disorder or unrest.
The Lotteries Act is enforced by the Malaysian government’s regulatory bodies, such as the Ministry of Finance and the Royal Malaysian Police. Penalties for violating the act can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the nature and severity of the offence.

Social Attitudes towards Gambling in Malaysia

Traditional Attitudes towards Gambling in Malaysia

Gambling has a long history in Malaysia, with many traditional games and activities still enjoyed by many Malaysians today. However, there is also a strong conservative streak in Malaysian society, and many people view gambling as a vice that can lead to addiction and other social problems.

Modern Attitudes towards Gambling in Malaysia

In recent years, there has been a growing acceptance of gambling in Malaysia, particularly among younger generations. This has been fueled in part by the popularity of online gambling, which is seen by many as a more convenient and accessible form of gambling. Additionally, the rise of integrated resorts and casinos in neighbouring countries such as Singapore and the Philippines has led to increased interest in casino gambling among Malaysians.

Despite this growing acceptance, there is still a significant portion of the population that remains opposed to gambling. Many conservative Muslims, who make up the majority of the population, view gambling as haram, or forbidden by Islamic law. There have also been concerns raised about the social costs of gambling, including addiction, financial ruin, and increased crime.

Future of Gambling in Malaysia

The future of gambling in Malaysia is uncertain. There have been discussions about potential changes to the country’s gambling laws, including the possibility of legalising and regulating online gambling. However, whether gambling will be legalised in the country is up to the Commissioner Of Law Revision
The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on the gambling industry in Malaysia. With many casinos and other gambling establishments forced to close during lockdowns and other restrictions, the industry has suffered significant losses. However, the rise of online gambling has helped to offset some of these losses.

Economic Benefits and Social Costs of Gambling in Malaysia

The gambling industry in Malaysia generates significant revenue for the government and provides employment opportunities for thousands of people. The legalisation of online gambling could also provide additional revenue streams and boost the country’s economy.
However, there are also social costs associated with gambling, including addiction, financial problems, and increased crime. It is important for the government to strike a balance between promoting economic growth through the gambling industry and protecting the well-being of its citizens.


In conclusion, gambling in Malaysia is a complex and multifaceted issue. While there are some forms of legalised gambling in the country, such as lottery and horse racing, most forms of gambling are illegal. This has led to a thriving underground gambling industry, which poses a number of social and legal challenges.
Despite these challenges, there is a growing acceptance of gambling in Malaysia, particularly among younger generations. This has been fueled by the popularity of online gambling and the rise of integrated resorts and casinos in neighbouring countries.
While gambling can bring in significant revenue for governments and create jobs in the tourism and hospitality industries, it is important to also consider the social costs associated with gambling. This includes the risk of addiction, financial ruin, and increased crime. As Malaysia continues to grapple with these issues, it will be important to strike a balance between the economic benefits of gambling and the need to protect individuals and society as a whole.


  1. Why is gambling banned in Malaysia?
    Gambling is banned in Malaysia due to a combination of factors, including religious, cultural, and social reasons. The majority of Malaysia’s population is Muslim, and gambling is considered haram (forbidden) under Syariah law. Additionally, the government has cited concerns over the potential negative social and economic impacts of gambling, including those to public health, such as pathological gambling, debt, and crime.
  2. What is considered gambling in Malaysia?
    In Malaysia, gambling is defined as the act of betting or wagering on an uncertain outcome of an event, game, or contest. Therefore, playing any game of chance with the expectation of winning a prize or money is generally considered gambling in Malaysia. This includes not only traditional casino games such as slot machines and roulette, but also other games that involve an element of chance, such as card games and lottery-style games. It’s important to note that there are some exceptions for certain games that are deemed to have a significant element of skill, such as certain forms of poker, but generally speaking, any game that involves a significant element of chance is considered gambling in Malaysia.
  3. What are the main demographics of gamblers in Malaysia?
    The demographics of gamblers in Malaysia vary depending on the type of gambling activity. However, some general trends can be identified.
    In the case of legal gambling participation, such as lotteries, sports betting, and casino gambling, the majority of players are male. According to a study conducted by the Malaysian government, the majority of legal gambling participants are aged between 31 and 50 years old. The study also found that Malay and Chinese Malaysians are the largest ethnic groups participating in legal gambling.