Updates on NZ and Malaysia’s Initiatives to Legalise Remote Gambling Operations

In August 2020, New Zealand’s parliament enacted the Racing Industry Act (RIA) 2020 as the country’s initial step toward regulating offshore betting operations. In another part of the Asia Pacific Region, specifically in Southeast Asia, the government of Malaysia had also signified intentions to legalize online gambling for non-Muslim citizens.

Yet the Malaysian government has yet to move forward with legislative actions. So far, the latest development in Malaysia’s legalisation initiatives is a Memorandum of Agreement forwarded to its neighboring country, the Philippines.

Both New Zealand and Malaysia expressed intent to pass gambling laws some time in 2019. However, due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, the plans to do so were temporarily stalled. To date, only New Zealand was able to move on and take the first step in legalising remote gambling operations, through the enactment of the RIA 2020. Mainly because, New Zealand succeeded in immediately containing the COVID19 virus and eventually achieving zero infection cases in the country.

Malaysia on the other hand is still locked in battle against the pandemic after the country was hit by a third wave of the infectious disease in September 2020.

So far the only development to the country’s legalisation of online gambling was a Memorandum of Agreement sent some time in July 2020, to the head of the Philippine Amusement and Gambling Corp. aka PAGCOR. The latter being the regulator of the offshore online gambling companies that offer online and mobile gambling products and services to gamblers in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries.

About NZ’s Racing Industry Act 2020

Through the Racing Industry Act (RIA) 2020, New Zealand’s new gambling regulatory regime aims to establish the collection of consumption tax and fees for use of information or product use. In addition to establishing TAB NZ as the country’s new Racing Regulatory Agency, as well as designating the Racing Industry Transitory Agency (RITA) as the only legal betting operator in New Zealand, the RIA 2020 specified the following as obligations of remote gambling operators looking to operate legally in NZ:

Remote gambling operators regardless of where they are located or licensed, must first obtain the relevant racing license and permission from any appropriate NZ national sporting organisation, national sporting organisation or the Sport and Recreation New Zealand, whichever is applicable.

Also, they must enter into an agreement covering the use of betting information, as they are regarded as products being generated by all racing and sports events that take place in NZ. The agreement must include an undertaking to pay the applicable use-fee for the type of information used.

Additionally, remote betting operators are under obligation to pay Point of Consumption (POC) charges related to all bets collected on racing and sporting events and placed as wagers by NZ residents. That is regardless of whether the racing or sports events took place in or outside of New Zealand. The RIA 2020 states that the amount of POC charges that remote betting operators will pay will be based on a percentage of gross betting revenue collected from New Zealand gamblers.

About Malaysia’s Memorandum of Agreement with Philippines’ PAGCOR

PAGCOR Chief, Andrea Domingo, announced in July 2020 that the government of Malaysia has forwarded a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

According to Ms. Domingo, the MOA conveyed the conditions that Malaysia will agree to in allowing PAGCOR’s Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) to legally offer online gambling and betting products and services in Malaysia. First and foremost is that the government of Malaysia is willing to grant POGOs a 10-year license to operate in Malaysia. However, the offer is subject to the condition that at least 30% of the workforce employed by a licensed POGO are Malaysians.

Moreover, the offshore online or mobile casino must make certain that only non-Muslim Malaysian gamblers will be accepted and provided with access to their respective gambling platforms. Some of the most popular online and mobile casinos preferred by Malaysians include 918kiss, Joker888, mega888, Lucky Palace, XE888, Live 22, Ace333, Pussy666, King888, and Sky777.