PARLIAMENT | The government has clarified that it does not plan to re-issue a sports betting licence to Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd, a gaming company owned by tycoon Vincent Tan.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said this in a written parliamentary reply to a question from Kuala Krau MP Ismail Mohamed Said.
“The government has no intention and no plan to approve any sports betting licence for Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd, or for any other operators for such activities,” Lim said in his reply.
Tan, whose corporation Berjaya Corporations Bhd owns 70 percent of Ascot, is widely regarded as a close friend of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
As part of its launch, Ascot had introduced live racehorse betting from tracks around the world.
Lim elaborated that under the previous BN administration, the Finance Ministry had issued a sports betting licence to Ascot on Jan 13, 2010, only to withdraw it on Oct 5 the same year.
“The RM10 million security deposit Ascot paid in the form of a bank guarantee on April 6, 2010, was also returned in full to the company on Oct 5,” Lim said.
In 2010, then Prime Minister and Finance Minister Najib Abdul Razak had defended issuing the licence as a means to curb illegal gambling activities in the country.
The decision courted much backlash and was later overturned following a unanimous vote against it by the Umno supreme council.