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‘Nomads’ keep illegal racket in play

MELAKA: The kingpin and operators of illegal gambling dens here have gone into hiding, but their former henchmen and employees are continuing the racket in housing estates and condominiums.
Dubbed “nomads” by the police for the way they keep moving their illicit activities around, these stragglers are taking the risk because of a revised betting system that they believe will bring them bigger profits in a shorter time.
Shoplots previously used as gambling outlets in Semabok, Pulau Gadong, Bukit Beruang, Malim and Cheng here seem to be shuttered for good, two months after a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) sweep against a high-level vice den protection racket.
The kingpin and operators also appear to have abandoned the business following the MACC crackdown in May that saw several top police officers arrested for allegedly providing protection to the gambling dens.
However, remnants of the outfits are now believed to be operating clandestinely in residential areas and are constantly shifting their base of operations to evade the authorities.
State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan said the law is closing in on the itinerant operators.
“My anti-vice, gangsterism and gambling division (D7) is on the lookout for these ex-accomplices.
“They try to evade us by moving from one place to another but it’s a matter of time before we get them,” DCP Abdul Jalil said.
A 27-year-old Indonesian who used to work for one of the operators said his former colleagues were taking a big risk without anyone to “back them up” in case of arrest.
“They are pushing their luck ... they are willing to face the consequences for money,” he said.
These new operators are trying to earn a big payday in the short term after learning the tricks of the trade from their bosses, he said, adding that they would rent houses or condo units for brief periods before moving to different areas.
The “nomads” are believed to sign short-term rental leases, three months at the most, using foreigners’ documents for registration.
They also pay additional deposit and higher rent, and are willing to forfeit any balance when they move away.
A source said they target areas where property owners find difficulty getting tenants.
Moving is also easier because they use laptops and other portable devices like smartphones and tablets, unlike the “fixed” gambling dens that used bulky tabletop and free-standing machines, the source added.
Another former gambling outlet worker, in his early 30s, believes that the “nomads” have pooled their money to finance the new operation.
He said the revised betting system used a computer algorithm that could predetermine the number of wins that patrons enjoyed, enabling the operators to rack up profits that were much higher than the payouts they would have to make.
The ex-worker also said that regular customers would be updated on the new locations with each move.
However, he said the operators’ days were numbered as police were conducting daily raids.

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