‘Special draw’ taxes not worth harm to society, Putrajaya told

A customer looks at screens showing lottery information at a lottery ticket store in Shanghai, December 29, 2013. — Reuters pic
A customer looks at screens showing lottery information at a lottery ticket store in Shanghai, December 29, 2013. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 — Putrajaya must stop encouraging gambling through additional “special draws” by numbers forecast operators (NFO) in the peninsula, the DAP said today when noting the social ills that would arise far outweighs expected RM150 million in tax income.

DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke said that the federal government has approved 22 Special Draw permits for each of the three NFOs — Magnum, Damacai and Sports Toto — this year, to take place on Tuesdays on top of the regular 4D draws every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

“According to the written reply I received from the Finance Minister in Parliament in September 2013, the amount of taxes collected from the Special Draw from January to June 2013 was RM70.8 million,” Loke told reporters at the DAP headquarters here today.

“That means, the estimated gaming taxes from the additional Special Draw this year will reach RM150 million. Even though this seems like additional government revenue, Malaysians will actually lose more money through gambling. The social costs, such as an increase in loan shark cases, will be quite significant,” added the Seremban MP.

Loke conceded he did not have figures to show how many went bankrupt from gambling addiction, but asserted that most who borrowed from loan sharks were gamblers.

The lawmaker also said that the amount of gaming taxes from the six licensed lottery operators in Malaysia — Sports Toto Malaysia, Magnum Corporation, Pan Malaysian Pools, which owns Damacai, Sabah’s Diriwan Corporation, Sarawak Turf Club and Sandakan Turf Club — totalled a massive RM6.3 billion from 2008 to 2012, according to the Finance Ministry’s Parliament reply in October last year.

“On average, the government collects RM1.26 billion each year from lottery draws. This does not include gaming taxes from the Genting Highlands casino and the slot machines at clubs and private companies,” said Loke.

“For slot machines, the taxes collected by the government were RM73.6 million in 2010, RM77.3 million in 2011 and RM82.4 million in 2012,” he added.

Loke also said that opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has suggested to Putrajaya creating a separate account for gaming taxes, so as to “safeguard Muslim sensitivities”.

“The money from such gaming taxes should be channelled transparently to the non-Muslim community, like vernacular schools and social and cultural clubs,” he said.

Loke said that the Finance Ministry’s Parliament reply — which stated that the taxes collected from the Special Draw in the first six months of 2013 went to “sports, welfare, social, cultural and health programmes” — was too vague.

“I urge the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to cancel all additional Special Draw permits to prove that the government does not depend on gambling activities to increase tax revenue,” he said.

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