SOME of the 12 local authorities in Selangor have stopped issuing new licences to operators of amusement centres to prevent them from being turned into illegal gaming outlets.
Others are setting stringent conditions on those applying for fresh licences.
State Local Government Committee chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah said the move was in line with the Selangor government’s impending move to freeze amusement centre licences.
Although the state was reviewing the matter following a statement by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Ean Yong said the local authorities were also practising a cautious approach on their part.
“The councils have received reports on amusement centre operators turning their premises into illegal gaming dens.
“The local authorities will apply their discretion and wisdom on deciding the best for their respective areas,” he said, adding that the seriousness of the issue pertaining to illegal gaming outlets differed from one area to another.
Ean Yong added that he had personally met up with Selangor police twice this year to seek their assistance in checking on the mushrooming of illegal gambling dens in the state.
“The local authorities are unable to put a stop to the illegal gambling activity because they are not empowered to arrest suspects or charge them in court as these were the powers vested in the police.
“The police is the only authority who can determine whether the activity is illegal and empowered to arrest and charge the operators in court,” he said.
State police statistics showed that 4,874 raids were conducted against illegal gaming and massage centres for the whole of last year, he added.
He said 5,962 arrests were made during the raids and 2,458 people were charged for various offences.
“A total of 61,281 gambling machines along with RM428,468 were also seized from the premises,” he said.
While acknowledging the state police’s efforts, Ean Yong said a closer collaboration with the authorities was required to combat the situation.
Most of the time, he said both the police and local authorities were conducting enforcement operations separately and it was not effective.
“We need both parties to work hand in hand so that we can put an end to the problem once and for all,” he said.
Ean Yong urged Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zahid Hamidi, who is also the Home Minister, to issue an order to the police to declare an all-out war against illegal gambling activities in Selangor similar to the move in Penang.