06 June 2010
Sports betting licence is BN ‘payback’
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) today launched its anti-sports betting movement with a leader alleging that tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan was awarded the licence in return for financing Barisan Nasional’s recent by-election campaigns.
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad made the allegation hours before Tan himself called a press conference over the licence issued for football pools.
“I am confident that this was done by the prime minister because he owed a favour to Berjaya Group for supporting Barisan Nasional in the past 11 by-elections,” Khalid told PR supporters today.
“Much money was spent [in the by-elections], a portion of which most likely came from Berjaya Group, and this licence was awarded as payback,” he added.
Khalid was speaking at the launch of the People’s Anti-Gambling Movement by Pakatan Rakyat component parties’ Youth wings and NGOs in front of Sogo here.
He criticised the government’s decision to legalise sports betting without parliamentary debate, calling the move “shocking and sudden”.
“I think they probably realised... that the state of the nation’s finances was not as good as they’ve been claiming all this while,” he said.
Khalid claimed that only two parties were set to benefit from the legalisation of sports betting.
“The first are the gambling bosses and the second are the Ah Longs (loan sharks)... and maybe the third is Barisan Nasional because Berjaya will continue to contribute to Barisan Nasional,” he said.
“This represents a sacrificing of people’s rights... for Barisan Nasional’s short-term gains.”
He added that they were not only against sports betting but all forms of gambling.
“Society has been made sick by problems arising from gambling... Let’s not add more sickness.
“We reject Umno and Barisan Nasional’s actions in passing this [sports] betting licence. [This is] the start of our efforts to educate society to stay away from the... practice of gambling which doesn’t benefit or profit anyone except gaming bosses and loan sharks,” Khalid said.
The Najib administration issued a sports betting licence last month to Tan’s Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd, which Berjaya Group — also controlled by Tan — is expected to take a 70 per cent stake in.
The move has been widely seen as an attempt to replenish state coffers, already suffering from a wide deficit, ahead of the 2010 World Cup finals next week.
According to one Reuters report, the sports betting business in Malaysia could be worth between RM612 million and RM8 billion a year.
Are we missing the elephant in the room?
Isn't the real problem the crime syndicates that run illegal gambling AND fund the gamblers through loan-sharking?
Whether we legalise sports betting, casino games, horse racing or not is irrelevant in the face of flourishing organised crime.
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