Johor stops issuing permits for new and existing outlets to check gambling

NUSAJAYA - Johor has stopped issuing licences to open new family entertainment outlets and renewals for existing outlets.

The directive was given to the district offices and local councils in June 2013, said state housing and local government chairman Datuk Abdul Latiff Bandi.

However, he said the authorities had extended the licences of several family entertainment outlets but they would not be renewed upon expiry.

"Action will be taken against the outlets for operating illegally, especially on those offering gambling activities," said Abdul Latiff when replying to questions in the state assembly yesterday from Chua Wee Beng (DAP-Bentayan), Dr Sheikh Ibrahim Salleh (PAS-Sungai Abong), Andrew Chen Kah Eng (DAP-Stulang) and Cheo Yew How (DAP-Pengkalan Rinting) on steps taken against illegal gambling centres in Johor.

"Last year, police conducted 3,387 raids on illegal gambling outlets and arrested 1,389 individuals," said Abdul Latiff.

He added that from January to October 2014, 4,906 gambling outlets were raided, 2,636 individuals investigated and 5,423 computers and gaming machines confiscated.

Meanwhile, Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin said Johor was expected to record a budget surplus for the fourth consecutive year.

This time, the surplus was expected at RM420.22mil (S$462 million) as of Nov 10, much higher than the RM2.02mil under Budget 2014.

He said the Government projected revenue collection at RM1.5bil by the end of the year.

"As of Nov 10, we collected RM1.318bil in revenue from the initial estimation of RM1.064bil under Budget 2015," he said in reply to a question from Tan Hong Ping (Mengkibol-DAP).

He said from the RM1.318bil in revenue, RM899.23mil would be allocated for management expenditure.

Mohamed Khaled also told the House that the state's coffers were strong, with cash reserves at RM2.763bil compared to RM1.799bil as of Dec 31, 2013.

From the current reserves, RM2.420bil and RM343.65mil were parked in banks as fixed deposit and cash flow respectively.

"With strong cash reserves, the Opposition might want to take over the state administration from us (Barisan Nasional),'' Mohamed Khaled quipped with thunderous applause from Barisan assemblymen.

In reply to a question from Ayub Jamil (BN-Rengit), he said the state government owed RM528.18mil to the Federal Government as of Sept 31, 2014.

Mohamed Khaled said prudent spending was among several steps Johor would take to reduce the debt by 50 per cent.