Action against ‘fishing casinos’

MCC to work with police in weeding out casinos disguised as games arcade in the city

MIRI: The Miri City Council (MCC) and police will conduct a joint enforcement operation against unlicensed amusement centres throughout the city, especially those with machines for illegal fishing casino games.

According to Miri Mayor Lawrence Lai, the council will not hesitate to seize items from these unlicensed premises and close them down during ‘Ops Mesin Ikan’.

“Under Section 5 of the Entertainment Ordinance 2000, it is an offence for any shop or outlet to operate or trade as amusement centres without entertainment licence from the council.

“Thus under Section 21 of the said Ordinance, the council has the power to seize, remove and detain all the machines, as well as to close down these unlicensed premises under Section 17 of the same Ordinance,” he said during a press conference at MCC yesterday.

Lai pointed out that upon conviction, the operator might face a fine not exceeding RM2,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both, under Section 29 of the same Ordinance.

“There are growing concerns among the public on the increasing number of unlicensed amusement centres across the city, involving the illegal operation of fishing casino machines.

“We have received a lot of public complaints regarding this matter as most customers patronising these centres are students.”

Lai added that MCC had highlighted the issues during a dialogue with police here in October last year.

Following that session, he said the council had compounded a total of 16 unlicensed amusement operators, with a fine of RM1,000 each.

However, he disclosed that MCC found its action against these games arcades ineffective in addressing the problem.

“We are very serious about the problem — we can no longer tolerate this anymore because the council has been giving them (unlicensed operators) multiple chances to apply licences from us.”

According to Lai, MCC has only issued six amusement centre licences in the city — two each in Boulevard Mall and Permyjaya New Township, and one each in Merdeka Mall and MYY Mall.

He advised unlicensed operators to submit their applications for licensing immediately to MCC, adding that one of the conditions would be that the amusement centre must cover an area of 6,000 square feet.

Miri CID senior investigating officer ASP Soliment Nyia said his side was very committed in working with MCC to combat illegal gambling in the city, especially those involving the fishing machines.

“The police are committed in their every effort to increase our patrolling frequency to safeguard the safety and security in the city,” he said.

Meanwhile a source told the Borneo Post recently that there are more than 600 “Fish Casinos” (Pusat Perjudian Ikan or illegal gambling premises) in the state.

There are no age limit for patrons of these amusement centres which are “actually gambling arcades in disguise are open to the general public regardless of age and race and some open 24 hours a day seven days a week.

These games arcades operate openly at shopping malls and bus terminals “with their logos display at door entrances and most of their workers are foreigners, mainly from Indonesia.”

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