Malaysia’s betting beepers
By maddy
Football gambling is a multi-million dollar industry across South East Asia. Now, in a bid to curb illegal gambling and legalize the channels, several governments including Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have upped their efforts.

‘We welcome the efforts Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have taken to curb illegal gambling and we are hoping other countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and Hong Kong can follow their example,’ says AFC Secretary General Datuk Peter Velappan.

However Velappan also said the Malaysian police and computer specialists are also on alert for illegal bookies together with their Singaporean counterparts, who are now using obsolete pagers to run illegal betting syndicates. There are reportedly at least six syndicates offering pager services nation-wide using more than 500,000 pagers imported from Taiwan.

The syndicates lease the airtime from half a dozen paging companies operating nation-wide paying between RM20,000 to RM80,000 a month to lease airtime mostly during off-peak periods and at night, when the paging transmissions are under used.

Pagers offer ‘near real-time results’, odds and payouts on football, horse racing and other games where bets can be placed directly. The pagers, which now come in call-card size, offer information in both English and Mandarin.

Selling at RM500 a piece, with a monthly subscription of RM50, they are the hottest technology especially after the Euro 2004 season kicked off last weekend.

‘The pagers are all snapped up two months ago. If you want to subscribe to the service, you have to wait for a new shipment to arrive,’ said a source. The gadgets are largely used in West Coast States and Sabah and Sarawak.

‘Syndicates would be allowed to directly send their text messages without having to access the paging operators. The messages would be delivered to the paging company servers via computers and the information would be beamed instantly to its subscribers,’ said an unnamed paging operator.

The source said although they claimed to provide real time results for games, the information channeled is aimed at gamblers. Syndicates would access the paging company terminal remotely via the Internet, dial-up or lease line.

Based on the numbers and code assigned, the syndicates would synchronize the details with the pager to enable them to activate the service. The real- time information, especially on football scores is then obtained through illegal satellite transmission or directly from Hong Kong to provide the instant results, obtained from gambling houses, via computer that is directly linked to the paging centers.

The information is five minutes faster than the Astro (time zone) transmission and three minutes quicker than the free-to-air television broadcasts.

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