Malaysian Prime Minister Denies Second Casino Speculation

Land Based Casinos Law & Politics
Alan Campbell

Updated by Alan Campbell

Last Updated 15th May 2024, 10:00 AM

Malaysian Prime Minister Denies Second Casino Speculation

PM Anwar bin Ibrahim, rejecting speculation of a second casino in Malaysia. (Image: Associated Press / Alamy)

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Anwar bin Ibrahim, has firmly rejected recent gossip that his government may be considering plans to bring an additional casino location to the nation of approximately 33 million people.

The 76-year-old made the denial whilst speaking at a plenary session being held as part of this week’s Qatar Economic Forum in Doha, Qatar. 

The Sun reports that Anwar, who also serves as Finance Minister, asserted there is currently ‘no need for a second casino in the country’ as his administration is currently concerned with digital transformation, energy transition, and the artificial intelligence sector.

Important Assurance

As part of his 2022 general election campaign, Anwar pledged to promote good governance, sustainable development and racial harmony under his ‘Malaysia Madani’ slogan. 

This refrain replaced the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ concept of predecessor Ismail Sabri Yaakob and embraced commitments to increase sustainability, prosperity, innovation, respect, trust and compassion across a multitude of government departments and programs.

However, faith in Anwar’s administration has been rocked following the recent emergence of rumors officials may have held secret meetings regarding the possibility of bringing a casino to the beleaguered Forest City development. 

This residential project on 741 acres of reclaimed land in the southern Malaysian state of Johor was already contentious due to the fact it is being primarily financed via China’s Belt and Road Initiative and marketed towards well-to-do foreigners looking to park their wealth abroad.

Anwar himself was even said to have been at a gathering last month where local billionaire businessman Vincent Tan and the boss of Genting Berhad, Lim Kok Thay, allegedly discussed the prospect of adding an integrated casino resort to the $95 billion Forest City project.

Definitive Denial

In the face of this conjecture, Anwar used the Qatar assembly to declare his administration is approaching the idea of bringing a second casino to Malaysia with an ‘affirmative no’. 

The rebuff from the People's Justice Party leader comes less than two weeks after he told the Malay Mail that any speculation he was in favor of such a project is ‘a lie that’s not right’.

“Malaysia does not have to venture into the casino business,” Anwar told the Qatar gathering on Tuesday. 

“We are focusing on digital transformation, energy transition, and artificial intelligence, as we believe these are adequate to push the country forward.”

Existing Enterprise

Malaysia is already home to one gambling-friendly development in the giant Resorts World Genting venue, which features a 200,000 sq ft casino hosting an assortment of more than 3,500 slots and 450 gaming tables. 

This 10,500-room facility from operator Genting Berhad has been going since 1969 and additionally encompasses a food market, six cinemas, a pair of cable cars, three nightclubs, and a 5,000-seat concert hall, as well as a trio of theme parks and five shopping malls.

Kuala Lumpur-headquartered Genting Berhad is furthermore responsible for casinos in the United States, Egypt, Bahamas, Singapore and the United Kingdom and saw its 2023 earnings from such operations increase by 34% year-on-year to top $1.6 billion. 

This encompassed an around $560.5 million contribution from Resorts World Genting, which represented a perennial rise of 26% thanks to a 23% hike in total revenues to beyond $1.4 billion.

Meet The Author

Alan Campbell
Alan Campbell

Alan Campbell has been reporting on the global gambling industry ever since graduating from university in the late-1990s with degrees in journalism, English and history. Now headquartered in the northern English city of Sheffield, he has written on a plethora of topics, companies, regulatory developments and technological innovations for a large number of traditional and digital publications from around the planet.

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