KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is firm about stopping the issuance of trade licences to establishments with slot machines once their current licences expire.
Deputy Chief Minister Jaujan Sambakong said the state Cabinet had decided to disallow slot machine operations earlier this year, adding circulars had been issued to all local authorities notifying them of the matter.
While the federal finance ministry was the one issuing licences for the machines, he said, the state government had jurisdiction over the business permits.
“If the establishments’ trading licences expire end of this year, we will not renew their trading licences after that. The decision is final,” Jaujan, who is also the state local government and housing minister, told reporters after launching an event here today.
The Association of Muslim Lawyers Sabah (Amal) had recently commended the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) for issuing notices to slot machine operators in the city informing them their trading would not be renewed next year.
In a statement earlier this year, its president Ansari Abdulah hoped other local authorities in the state would do the same.
However, the opposition Parti Gagasan Rakyat, said it was unwise, adding they were worried this would give rise to more illegal gambling.
Its deputy president Hiew King Cheu said the gambling industry in Sabah, besides contributing up to 30% in tax to the federal government, also contributed about 15% in sales tax to the state. In addition, he said, the authorities charged a monthly fee of RM800 for each slot machine in use.
He said the state government should instead focus on addressing the problem of illegal slot machine operations which contributed nothing to the government.
The former Kota Kinabalu MP said these establishments had given back to the community through donations to schools and charity organisations.
“They have also opened a dialysis centre in Tanjung Aru town here where underprivileged people have gone for treatment for free,” Hiew said, adding the service had been going on for over 15 years now.
Jaujan said today the decision was made after taking into account the views of the community at large, adding that gambling activities had “contributed to many social ills in the state”.
It has been reported that there are at least 400 slot machines in operation in gambling establishments.
Chief Minister Shafie Apdal had last May said he had given clear instructions to put an end to mini-casinos and slot machine operations in Sabah
According to Bernama, the federal government still issues licences for such operations, but has increased slot machine charges from RM10,000 to RM50,000 annually, while tax on profits from slot machines has been increased to 30% from 20%.