:KUALA LUMPUR: Twenty-one gambling syndicate operators have been detained under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) so far this year as part of a Bukit Aman crackdown.
Last year, some RM1.6mil in cash was seized from the syndicates.
Bukit Aman CID director Comm Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd (pic) said police aim to eradicate the illegal gambling menace nationwide, and so they are targeting the taukeh, or operators.
“We are not just going after the henchmen or caretakers of gambling joints. We are hauling in the masterminds as well.
“Last year alone, we arrested 34 operators under Poca,” he told The Star yesterday.
Since Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun became IGP in September, a crackdown on illegal gambling dubbed “total enforcement” was launched, prompting some of the operators to flee overseas, Comm Wan Ahmad Najmuddin added.
To show its seriousness, Bukit Aman’s Secret Societies, Gambling and Vice Division (D7) and Special Task Force for Anti-Vice, Gambling and Gangsterism (STAGG) conducted more than 18,541 raids last year and seized 90,139 gambling machines nationwide.
“We also arrested 33,664 suspects. Some RM1.6mil in cash was confiscated from the syndicates as well,” he said, adding that those arrested could be charged under the Common Gaming House Act as well as infringement of state enactments and licensing.
In 2016, 16,553 raids resulted in 29,173 arrests and the seizure of 116,739 machines, he added.
While there are encouraging signs that illegal gambling, including online gambling, are not rampant in the country, he said police still face an uphill battle given the syndicates’ new modus operandi.
He said some operators have a switch at their outlets that can convert their gambling machines into normal PCs in the event of a raid.
“Some syndicates also opt for mobile online gambling with smartphones and tablets. Others use a token or points system to transfer credits to winners’ accounts,” he said, adding that some servers used for online gambling are overseas.
The approval of licences for family entertainment centres by local authorities is also a problem, as the syndicates use these outlets as fronts for gambling, he added.
“We have made considerable headway in fighting this menace. There are hardly any gambling outlets in housing estates or complexes now.
“However, we still face challenges. That is why my men must have the right knowledge and tools to eradicate illegal gambling,” he said.
It is learnt that some illegal gambling centre caretakers or personnel were also given compensation by their bosses for getting detained.
“The caretaker and his family will be taken care of during his incarceration,” said a source.
Despite such tactics, Comm Wan Ahmad Najmuddin said police will not ease up on their unrelenting operations against the syndicates.