GEORGE TOWN: The black market will flourish in Kedah if the state government sticks to its decision to not renew the licenses of 4-digit outlets in the state, says criminologist Datuk Dr P. Sundramoorthy(pic).
He said that the black market 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," said the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) criminologist
"According to reliable sources, it is alleged that Illegal 4D operators have become more structured and high tech savvy as they can now operate online similar to legitimate online casinos and other gaming industries," he added.
Sundramoorthy said that the need for a physical space is not a must for operating an illegal 4D service.
"Thus, detecting and apprehending illegal gambling syndicates will be very difficult and challenging," he said.
Sundramoorthy added that the sin tax obtained from previously-legal 4D outlets in Kedah will be completely diminished, saying that this will be a loss of legitimate income for the state government.
"Moreover, it is quite obvious that when a legal business becomes illegal, the operators of illegal gaming entities will constantly attempt to corrupt those authorities responsible for preventing illegal gaming activities," he said.
Similarly, Kedah MCA Youth Chief Tan Chee Hiong warned the state government that the policy will split Malaysian society.
"Some conservatives will think this is a zero-sum game of religion. This is not a zero-sum game, this is an extreme lose-lose situation," he said.
Tan added that the policy is unconstitutional and said that it is a pro-extremism policy.
"This is a starting point of extremism in Malaysia. Voters should do something to stop this in the coming state election. We must protect multiculturalism in Kedah," he said.
On Sunday (Jan 1), Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said the state government had decided that it would no longer renew gaming licences in the state from Jan 1, 2023.
The local authorities in Kedah have been instructed to monitor all gaming and lottery ticket outlets in the state to ensure they comply with the state government’s directive to cease operations starting Sunday.
Meanwhile, former Kedah public works, energy, water supply and resources committee chairman Datuk Suraya Yaacob praised the state government's decision.
"It is truly a good effort by the MB and state government especially for Muslims and Malays as a whole. I was part of the government and was the state executive councillor when the decision was made," she said.
Suraya added that as a multicultural and multi-religious state, it is up to the public to see this issue from a different angle.
As to whether this encourages unlicensed gambling, Suraya said it is up to the police to curb it.
"Time will tell. Closing down 4D and gambling shops will not affect the state's revenue much as they only contribute to the state's revenue from local council licenses," she said.