Crack down on influential people promoting illegal gambling

Petaling Jaya, By the second quarter of 2024, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will launch a campaign against social media influencers promoting illegal online gambling.

Its spokesperson said Sun MCMC is monitoring the situation and will resolve the problem with the cooperation of police and social media platforms.

We are finalizing removal processes with major social media platforms and will take concrete steps to bring the culprits to book by Q2 2024.

He was responding to concerns raised on X over suspicions that a 19-year-old influencer who showed off a newly purchased luxury car was involved in gambling activities.

It was later revealed that he and several other influencers were promoting online gambling using several gaming apps.

The spokesperson said online gambling apps are often disguised as money-making games and have become more popular as social media influencers show off their earnings.

These influencers also promote apps to attract unsuspecting users with the promise of doubling or tripling their earnings.

He stressed that MCMC is committed to exploring collaboration to improve identification, reporting and removal processes of online gambling content promoted by influencers.

Online gambling is strictly prohibited under the Common Gaming House Act 1953, which is enforced by the police.

MCMC takes a zero-tolerance stance against the promotion of online gambling of any kind and actively cooperates with the police to combat this illegal activity.

The spokesperson also said that the MCMC has assisted the police in blocking more than 1,300 online gambling websites annually since 2018.

We take a proactive approach to monitoring online spaces, including social media, and are currently identifying social media influencers who are promoting online gambling.

In addition to blocking websites, we have removed numerous social media accounts and terminated 523,331 phone lines linked to promoting online gambling and other crimes such as unlicensed lending.

The spokesperson said it is difficult to determine the number of social media influencers promoting online gambling due to the dynamic nature of cyberspace.

Cases of impersonating social media influencers without their permission have also been seen.

However, based on our recent tracking, a large number of people are engaging in this harmful practice on social media platforms and it demands our action.

The spokesperson said a 2022 study by HypeAuditor found that social media posts from influencers promoting online gambling received an engagement rate of 5.7%, compared to an average of 3.5% for posts on other topics.

This is 60% higher engagement and suggests that the public, particularly youth, are potentially more susceptible to gambling as they are influenced by social media influencers.

The spokesperson said the existing rules are being reviewed and evaluated to update them, a move that will better address the emerging tactics used by illegal gambling operators and influencers.

We will also launch a nationwide awareness campaign on the dangers of online gambling promoted by influential people.

It will target potential victims and the influencers themselves.

According to Section 6(1) of the Common Gaming House Act 1953, engaging in gaming within a common gaming house is an offense punishable by a fine of up to RM5,000, a prison sentence of up to six months, or a combination of both.

Gaming is broadly defined in Section 2 to include playing any game of chance or a combination of chance and skill for money or money’s value.

In 2020, penalties for illegal gamblers and gambling operators increased 20-fold from RM5,000 to RM100,000, with a minimum jail sentence of six months.

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