(Free Malaysia Today) - Sarawak became the first Barisan Nasional state to declare its disapproval of the federal government’s move to legalise sports betting.
Chief Minister Taib Mahmud said there will be no new gaming outlets approved.
“We will not tempt or encourage people into gambling. Our focus now is to help them increase their income. We will allow the existing gaming outlets but there will be no new ones,” he said yesterday.
Taib was referring to the Finance Ministry’s decision to award Berjaya Corporation Group a licence to carry out sports betting activities.
The legalising of sports betting during the coming World Cup is expected to earn the government RM60 billion in tax revenue.
Sarawak is the third state to disallow new betting operations. Pakatan Rakyat-led Penang and Selangor have also barred the activity, using local government regulations.
Last week, two members of Taib’s cabinet had broken ranks when they openly said that gambling was wrong and detrimental to the society’s wellbeing.
Speaking to reporters after officiating at the Borneo International Conference on Language and Literature 2010 conference here, Taib said gambling had been semi-prohibited for a long time.
“We amended the laws relating to gambling 15 years ago so as not to allow new outlets to be set up.
“We do not want to encourage poverty and debts. It is sad to see families suffer as a result of addiction to gambling.
“If the state allowed gambling, it will cause more suffering not only to the gamblers but their families too,” he said.