THE Kedah government’s decision to enforce a ban on gaming and lottery ticket outlets in the state will drive investors away and encourage punters to turn to illegal online betting activities, warned economists.
According to Universiti Kuala Lumpur Business School economic analyst Associate Professor Dr Aimi Zulhazmi Abdul Rashid, it could impact the state government’s coffers despite the fact that tax contributions from gaming and lottery ticket operators might not be significant.
“Closing down these outlets may drive away investors, who are not in favour of the move enforced by the Kedah government,” he was reported as saying by New Straits Times.
“They might look into placing their investments in neighbouring states that still allow gaming and lottery ticket outlets to operate.”
The economic analyst is responding to news that all gaming and lottery ticket outlets in Kedah have ceased their operations from January 1, 2023 onwards with Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor saying that all local government divisions had been instructed to ensure all outlets complied to the directive.
Aimi noted that he was unsurprised by the Kedah state government’s move, seeing as such a ban had been enforced in other PAS-led states – namely Kelantan and Terengganu – as well.
Despite being illegal, online gambling activities was spreading in rural areas even before the ban was imposed, he added.
“It is hard to address this technological threat. Gaming companies are known to have online applications that can be accessed using even via analog phones,” he opined.
Putra Business School economic analyst Associate Professor Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff echoed Aimi’s opinion that the ban might lead to an excess in illegal online gambling activities, adding that the Kedah government would need to address any social impact resulting from illegal online activities.
“Shutting down gaming premises would cause a minor loss because there will always be other businesses that offer different services to take up the premises,” he acknowledged.
“The state government should instead focus on efforts to combat the social impact, because technology allows punters to turn to online gambling from the comfort of their homes.”
Razman further noted that the state government must be wary of online gaming addiction issues while also pointing out that compulsive gamblers will continue to find ways to fulfil their “addiction” by going to other states or turn to online gambling.
“The state government probably does not have much jurisdiction, experience and power to monitor online gaming activities. It will be a challenge for it to curb gambling activities because the ban will not stop people from doing so,” he asserted.
He added that should the Kedah government be serious about addressing the matter, they should work with the federal government as only they had the necessary resources to monitor and tackle it.
Meanwhile, after Kedah, it has been reported that the Perlis state government had said that it will be examining the legal standpoint before following suit.
Perlis Mentri Besar Mohd Shukri Ramli was quoted as saying that so far, the northern state has not yet discussed any step towards banning 4D gaming outlets.
“However, God willing, we will examine the legislation first, including the licence period of gambling outlets before any action is taken,” he was reported as saying.
“Anyway, in Perlis, we don’t even have many gambling outlets, because I understand that there are only about three such outlets in the Kangar and Kuala Perlis area.”
Both Perlis and Kedah are currently administered by the Perikatan Nasional coalition. – Jan 3, 2023
Main pic credit: The Sun Daily