Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Video games turned casinos gambling in Penang

Huge gambling slot machines draw punters to illegal centres
Not so innocent after all: One of the video games arcades that offer gambling slot machines in Sungai Nibong.

GEORGE TOWN: Some video games arcades in Penang are doubling as mini casinos where punters can try their luck on huge gambling slot machines.

One, in Bandar Baru Air Itam here, looks just like any other video games arcade as children, women and the elderly can be seen having a fun time inside the premises.

But it turns out that the main draw at the place are the huge slot machines which can be played by six punters at a time.

For RM10, a punter is given 20 tokens worth 100 credits to gamble with.

At one machine, punters earn credits if they are able to hit targets.

A check revealed that several video games arcades and amusement centres here as well as in Sungai Nibong, Macalister Road and Bandar Baru Air Itam have such slot machines apart from the usual video games for children.

Some even have snooker tables and indoor golf simulation games to make them one-stop entertainment outlets.

These premises are equipped with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and some have tontos (lookouts) stationed outside to sound the alarm if there are enforcement authorities.

Some of the premises are located in secluded shoplots and have tinted windows to avoid detection. There are also operators who only admit regular customers.

Many punters even bring along their spouse and children. While they gamble, their spouse and children play the usual video games.

A punter, who declined to be named, said winning about RM30 a day was enough to pay for three meals.

“But you must know the timing, technique and tactic to win lah,” he said.

Penang police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said they had “zero tolerance” against the operators of such illegal centres.

He urged those with information to contact the police hotline at 04-2691999.

“Please, furnish us with details of the premises that offer such activities. We will immediately launch a crackdown,” he said. “I won't allow gambling activities in Penang as it will surely cause social problems.”

Penang municipal councillor Iszuree Ibrahim believed that video game arcades could have abused their licences to run such outlets.

“We will not hesitate to revoke their licences and take stern action against them,” he said, adding that the licences had to be renewed quarterly. - The Star