GEORGE TOWN: The ban on all 4D outlets in Kedah will only lead to corruption and illegal betting activities, say experts, some of whom feel that it is better to treat gambling addiction instead.

Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist Datuk Dr P. Sundramoorthy said when a legal business becomes illegal, the operators of such illegal businesses would constantly attempt to bribe law enforcers.

“The act of corruption in the illegal gaming business is a worldwide problem.

“Thus, the impact of it may also be significant to our authorities.

“In some nations, not only would law enforcement officials be corrupted, even political figures would be too, by illegal gambling operators,” he said.

Sundramoorthy urged policymakers to see the criminological and sociological impact of outlawing a legal business that might bring about unwarranted consequences.

He was commenting on the closure of all 45 licensed 4D outlets in Kedah after the state government did not renew their local business operating permits.

He also said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, together with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and other relevant law enforcement agencies, must play a proactive role in monitoring the impact of banning legal 4D outlets in the state.

To make matters worse, Sundramoorthy said the underground market for number-betting would thrive further.

“The black market industry will be rejoicing as there will be more money to be made. It is highly probable that regular punters of legal 4D outlets will resort to betting with illegal operators.

“Illegal 4D operators are known to have become more structured and tech-savvy by operating online, which means the need for physical space is not a prerequisite for running such businesses anymore.

“Thus, detecting and apprehending illegal gambling syndicates will be very difficult and challenging,” he said.

Consumers Association of Penang education officer NV Subbarow said treating people with a gambling addiction might be a better solution than banning the entire industry.

“The state government should nip the problem in the bud by educating people on the negative effects of gambling and providing counselling for those with the addiction,” he said.

Subbarow added that the closure of 4D gaming shops might boost the coffers of illegal bookies.

“So it might create more social issues rather than solving them,” he said.

Kedah MCA Youth chief Tan Chee Hiong said the policy was unconstitutional and pro-extremism.

“This is a starting point of extremism in Malaysia. Voters should do something to stop this in the coming state election.

“We must protect the multiculturalism in Kedah,” he said.

Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor had said the state government would stop renewing business licences for gaming operators from this year.

Local authorities in the state have been instructed to monitor all gaming and lottery outlets to ensure that they cease operations starting Jan 1.

On Nov 14, 2021, Muhammad Sanusi announced that the state government would no longer approve new business licences or renew existing licences for gaming outlets to ensure the state would be free from such activities.

He also said the Kedah government – which is led by PAS – would limit the sales of alcoholic beverages in the state, especially in places where there was no demand, such as in rural areas.