“[We] don’t want to appear as though we encourage gambling and gaming but it will arise, in any case. They (illegal bookies) will do it. So, the question is whether it’s a good idea to leave them on their own, unregulated, or if the government should try to regulate and do it in such a manner that’s controlled.
“The government has not decided, so it’s not fair to reveal the names of the parties applying but once the government decides then everyone will know.”
DEPUTY Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin responding to a question raised in Parliament on whether the government would legalise betting to curb the activity on the black market. Awang Adek said the government had not yet decided on legalising gambling, but agreed that doing so would help raise revenue. (Source: Govt mulls legalised sports betting, theSun, 6 May 2010)
“This licence will generate revenue to the company which, in turn, will help the Treasury particularly in these trying times.”
But approval for a sports betting licence was apparently given to Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd on 13 Jan 2010, according to an announcement by Berjaya Corp Bhd. Berjaya Corp chairperson and chief executive officer Tan Sri Vincent Tan expressed thanks to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also Finance Minister I, for the re-issued licence to Ascot Sports. Tan, who owns Ascot Sports, used Berjaya Corp to acquire a 70% stake in the former for RM525 million in cash. The betting licence was first granted in 1987, rescinded and now re-issued reportedly with conditions attached. These included limited operations in Sports Toto outlets in non-Muslim areas, and a prohibition on online betting. (Source: Berjaya Corp to buy Ascot stake for RM525mil, The Star, 13 May 2010)
“Why should the government forgo this revenue and benefit the illegal bookies so much?”
Tan, commenting on the re-issuance of the sports betting licence to Ascot Sports. After pressure from religious and political groups against legalised betting, Tan subsequently announced he would donate to charity the RM525 million in proceeds from the sale of Ascot Sports shares to Berjaya Corp and seek other sources of funding. (Source: Sports betting permit reissued to Ascot Sports, theSun, 13 May 2010)
“The government has yet to issue a licence to Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd for bookie operations in Malaysia. The government has also not concluded discussions on the terms and conditions for licensing to Ascot Sports for bookie operations in Malaysia.”
Najib, through a written statement in reply to parliamentary questions, denying that the Finance Ministry has issued a betting licence to Ascot Sports. He said the ministry was still open to public feedback on the matter. (Source: Finance Ministry denies giving betting licence to Ascot, Malaysian Insider, 7 June 2010)
“Rather than making noise from the outside, state governments can offer their suggestions and ideas to overcome [the] black economy…The betting licence was approved a long time ago but it was made to look like it was only recently approved. They have also painted a negative picture saying the government encourages gambling.”
Separately, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the licence was approved earlier when taking opposition-led state governments to task for banning Ascot Sports from taking bets in Pakatan Rakyat states. (Source: Assist government to tackle football betting issue — Hishammuddin, Bernama, 7 June 2010)
“This is in direct contradiction to what the finance minister announced yesterday.”
DAP’s Petaling Jaya Utara Member of Parliament Tony Pua, asking Najib to clarify the contradiction as it affected investor confidence. DAP said Najib should be referred to the Dewan Rakyat’s Rights and Privileges Committee for misleading Parliament over the issue. Pakatan MPs have questioned why the government kept mum while Berjaya Corp’s Tan was actively making statements on being awarded the betting licence. (Source: PM ‘misled’ House on sports betting, DAP wants action, Free Malaysia Today, 8 June 2010)
Bursa Malaysia and the Securities Commission have since said that Berjaya Corp will be probed for misrepresentation or other breaches of securities laws. The Edge Financial Daily also tried to probe a possible misunderstanding between government “approval” for the betting license, and actual granting of the license itself. The business paper said an anonymous Ascot Sports official told it, “It is up to your interpretation. We have got the letter of approval but people are still questioning.”
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Hey, this ties in very nicely with the other article on the nation possibly going bankrupt due to subsidies.
Looks like the government is desperate for revenue, so much so, they are willing to sacrifice some of their “principles” and/or voter base?
Not that I mind. I mean, gambling remains one of the favourite pastimes for non-Muslim Malaysians. Heck, this is one of the rare nods from the government that they are still acknowledging that Malaysia is still a secular, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country after all.
Hipolito Vautrin says
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