MELAKA: The state government is taking a serious view of the attempts to revive illegal online gambling by former accomplices of fugitive kingpins, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said.
He said the matter was raised at a state-level National Security Council committee meeting after The Star reported on these attempts on Aug 29.
Various federal and state agencies at the meeting provided input on the vice activities, which they described as “aggressively ongoing” with the culprits using different approaches in order to evade the authorities, Idris said in an interview yesterday.
He said the committee had activated measures to counter the menace and track the accomplices’ movements.
“The state is concerned that the illegal gambling dens could expand and become as widespread as before if nothing is done to nip the problem in the bud.
“The modus operandi used by these ex-accomplices is to lure their customers to homes and not shoplots as in the past,” he said, adding that this made it hard for local councils to act against non-business premises.
However, Idris said his administration would not tolerate such unlawful activities and would wipe them out.
The kingpins who used to operate online gambling at shoplots appeared to have fled for good following a massive crackdown in May by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on an alleged protection racket given to vice dens.
The kingpins are believed to be lying low in other states after the MACC crackdown, leaving their former accomplices to take over the lucrative illegal gambling business in the state.
The new gambling den operators aim for big profits in the short term, having learnt the tricks of the trade from their former bosses and with the client database in their possession.
Their new online gambling tools are only smartphones. This is unlike the tabletop machines and computers used previously, making it easier for them to pack up and run.
The new operators rent homes in housing estates, including posh residential areas, and pay higher rental to the owners for short-term leases.
The houses are used as “bases” where clients gamble or download the gambling applications and also serve as payment centres for winnings.
Melaka Mayor Datuk Zainal Hussin said his enforcement officers reported that the previous shoplots used as dens had been closed since May 17.