PETALING JAYA - Operators of illegal gambling outlets have moved their businesses into less prominent areas - housing estates, commercial centres and even shopping malls - in an attempt to stay under the radar.
Bandar Baru Rawang, where the Selayang Municipal Council-owned wet market complex and several blocks of multi-storey shophouses are located, has been turned into a nest of illegal gambling dens.
There are about 20 illegal gaming outlets on various streets there.
Jalan Bandar Rawang 3, where the market complex is situated, seems to have the most, with several others on Jalan Bandar Rawang 4.
At least three outlets were also found operating at the Taman Bukit Belimbing housing estate and Taman Harmoni shophouses in Balakong.
Five outlets were found at various spots around Kampung Baru Sungai Chua in Kajang, one of them next to a mamak shop.
Checks showed that several shopping malls in the Klang Valley including in Petaling Jaya, Kajang, Klang and Subang have amusement centres that were turned into gambling dens.
Aside from the ones in malls, most of the outlets are on the ground floor, with patrons allowed access only through an inconspicuous door on the side or through a partially closed entrance.
If patrons ring the doorbell, the operators scrutinise them via CCTV cameras at the entrance; only regulars are readily admitted.
For the non-regulars, they have to ring the doorbell several times or make a number of appearances before being allowed to enter, if at all.
The operators make it a point to reject those who they are not comfortable with or who look like plainclothes policemen.
Once inside, patrons are given free beverages.
In the face of stiff competition from their rivals, some operators even offer free food like nasi lemak bungkus and instant noodles to regulars.
Customers must deposit a minimum of RM10 to try their luck at any of the games.
Some outlets are dimly lit with comfortable seating, while others are more spartan, though all offer a similar range of games.
Besides online gambling such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat, patrons can also try a variety of slot machines.
The operators have also found a new setup to help disguise their gambling activities: a multi-panel electronic game box that can accommodate up to eight players at a time.
Players get 1,000 points for RM10 and use these to bet on the numbers that come up in these games, which include football and car racing. Their final points score translates to how much they win - or lose.