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Gambling dens offer real-time betting

PETALING JAYA: The latest craze among patrons of illegal gambling dens around the country is betting on live feeds with real, sexily-dressed croupiers conducting the games – an “upgrade” from earlier simulated forms of online betting.
The on-the-spot betting, said to offer an experience similar to gambling in a casino, is made possible by real-time feeds from overseas.
A source said local syndicates subscribe to the live feeds directly from established online casino operators via high-speed broadband, and farm out the operations to gambling den operators.
The source said there are about 20 local operators controlling illegal gambling activities in the Klang Valley.
A syndicate earns an estimated RM30mil to RM50mil monthly net income from this service.
“Live feeds from western countries are more popular.
“There are also networks offering similar services from Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam but they are a bit dodgy,” the source said, as the games could be rigged.
A syndicate typically charges gambling den operators a 15% commission on their takings.
In return, the syndicate pays the foreign online gambling network a subscription fee of between 5% and 8% of its earnings from the operators.
The feed incorporates a window with live news channels to prove that it is in real time, and actual croupiers in games such as poker, blackjack, baccarat and roulette.
Previously, illegal gambling dens used animated simulations for their online betting.
Depending on the location and customer flow of the den, an operator can earn from RM50,000 to RM2mil net per month.
The Star checked out several of these outlets in Petaling Jaya’s Section 11, Section 14 and SS2, as well as USJ 21 in Subang Jaya, and found that many of these outfits operate illegally in shoplots.
Logos are placed in front of these outlets to indicate the establishment’s owners.
The premises are locked and patrons have to use a doorbell.
Customers are scrutinised via closed-circuit cameras outside the outlet.
Only regulars may enter, and new players need to be accompanied or referred by trusted patrons.
Aside from several video game machines, which are actually computerised slot machines, these outlets have rows of computers displaying the live casino feeds.
In order to play, a gambler has to deposit cash at the counter, and the amount would then be credited to whichever computer he selects.
The gambler then uses this credit to place bets. Winnings are credited into the computer’s account and after finishing, the gambler proceeds to the same counter to cash out – if there is any money left.
A worker at one outlet said there were regular customers who mostly visited after work or at night.
“We operate 24 hours and have staff on shifts around the clock,” the worker said, adding that gamblers were served refreshments, normally tidbits and hot drinks, on the house.
However, following the recent arrests of policemen in Melaka alleged to have taken money from illegal gambling centres in return for protection, and the police crackdown on such operators in Penang, dens in the Klang Valley temporarily stopped operations.
Many slowly resumed over the past two weeks, as they could not afford to pay the high overheads without opening shop.
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