Court Rules Online Gambling an Offence Under Common Gaming Houses Act 1953

October 20, 2023 | Online Gambling

MALAYSIA, October 19, 2023 —   Bernama, Malaysian National News Agency, reported the Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that online gambling is an offence under the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953.

This follows the unanimous decision of a three-member bench, led Justice Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, who rejected the legal question posed by former gambling house proprietor Roseaini Johor, 49, and retired police officer Rashid Mahmud, 62, as the appellants.

The legal question was whether operating online computer gambling premises without the presence of any physical equipment falls under the definition of a Common Gaming House under section 2(d) of the said act.

Vazeer, who sat with Justices Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim and S.M. Komathy Suppiah when making the decision, said the Court of Appeal agreed with the findings of the High Court in Malacca that there is no requirement in the law for equipment (gambling machines) to exist physically on the premises.



“We also agree with the findings of the High Court judge, where he provided a detailed explanation of the definition of a common gaming house and gambling machines. The judge concluded that there is no requirement in the law for the equipment to exist physically on the premises,” said Vazeer.

He also dismissed the appeal of the two appellants to set aside their convictions and sentences.

“A committal warrant was issued against the appellant (Roseaini), and her five-month prison sentence was reduced by four days, making her serve a sentence of four months and three weeks,” he said.

Roseaini and Rashid, who were also fined RM5,000 each, had paid the fines.

In 2020, the Malacca magistrates’ court sentenced Roseaini to five months in prison and fined her RM10,000 after finding her guilty of managing an online gambling outlet using two mainframe computers and 26 laptops in a house on Jalan Syed Abdul Aziz, Malacca, on December 11, 2017, under section 4B(a) of the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953.



Rashid, meanwhile, was sentenced to one month in prison and fined RM3,000 after being found guilty of online gambling using a laptop on the same date and place under section 6(1) of the same act.

The Malacca High Court upheld Roseaini’s five-month prison sentence but reduced her fine to RM5,000, while Rashid’s one-month prison sentence was set aside, and his fine was increased to RM5,000.

Earlier, lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, representing the two appellants, argued that online gambling would be a violation of the law if there were roulette wheels, balls and betting boards as listed under the Second Schedule of the Gambling Act.

Deputy public prosecutor Nahra Dollah, however, argued that any gambling method, whether online or using physical equipment, was a gambling offence under Act 289.

“What’s more, in this case, computers and laptops are considered ‘gaming machines’. Even though technology is advancing, Act 289 is applicable to any form of more sophisticated equipment in line with technological progress.

“In conclusion, premises for online computer gambling without any physical equipment fall within the definition of a ‘common gaming house’ under section 2(d) of the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953,” she said.

SOURCE: Bernama, October 19, 2023.

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