Destroy influencers promoting illegal gambling

PETALING JAYA: By the second quarter of 2024, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will launch an operation against social media influencers promoting illegal online gambling.

Its spokesman said sun MCMC is monitoring the situation and dealing with the matter in cooperation with the police and social media platforms.

We are finalizing takedown procedures with major social media platforms and taking concrete steps to catch the culprits by the second quarter of 2024 at the latest.

He was responding to concerns raised in X about suspicions that the 19-year-old influencer, who was showing 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.

Online gambling apps are often disguised as money-making games and have become more popular as social media influencers tout their earnings, the spokesperson said.

These influencers also promote apps to lure unsuspecting users by promising to double or triple their income.

He emphasized that MCMC is committed to exploring collaboration to improve the detection, reporting and removal processes of influencer-promoted online gambling content.

Online gambling is strictly prohibited under the Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953, which is policed.

MCMC has a zero tolerance approach to any form of online gambling promotion and actively cooperates with the police to combat this illegal activity.

The spokesperson also said that the MCMC has helped the police block more than 1,300 online gambling sites each year since 2018.

We proactively monitor online spaces, including social media, and are currently identifying social media influencers who promote online gambling.

In addition to blocking websites, we have removed several social media accounts and disconnected 523,331 phone lines linked to the promotion of online gambling and other crimes such as illegal loans.

The spokesman said it was difficult to estimate the number of social media influencers promoting online gambling due to the dynamic nature of cyberspace.

There have also been cases where social media influencers have appeared without their permission.

However, based on our recent monitoring, a significant number of individuals are engaging in this harmful practice on social media platforms, and this calls for our action.

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

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

The spokesperson said existing regulations are being reviewed and evaluated to update them, adding that the move would better take into account the evolving tactics used by illegal gambling operators and influencers.

We are also starting a nationwide information campaign about the dangers of online gambling promoted by influencers.

It targets potential victims and the influencers themselves.

Under Section 6(1) of the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953, gambling in a common gaming house is an offense punishable by a fine not exceeding RM5,000, imprisonment not exceeding six months, or a combination of both.

Gambling is comprehensively defined in Chapter 2 as the playing of any game involving chance or a combination of chance and skill for money or money’s worth.

In 2020, penalties for illegal players and gambling organizers were increased 20-fold from RM5,000 to RM100,000, with a minimum jail term of six months.

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