Forced shutdown by state govt caused staff to be unemployed and put financial strain on licensed agents

KUALA LUMPUR: STM Lottery Sdn Bhd (STM Lottery) and Magnum Corporation Sdn Bhd (Magnum) have welcomed the Alor Setar High Court decision to quash the ban on licensed betting in Kedah.

On June 20, the court ruled that the state government’s decision to ban the renewal of business premises licences for betting outlets was inconsistent with the Federal Constitution.

The court held that the state government’s decision was inconsistent with the Articles 74 and 80(1) of the Constitution, read together with Item 4(l) of the Federal List.

Local authority jurisdiction do not extend to the power to ban licensed betting operations under the subject matter of business premises licences, as this would result in apparent conflict or overlap between Item 4 of the State List and Item 4(l) of the Federal List.

The ruling is significant for licensed Number Forecast Operators (NFO) in the country and the licensed betting business in Kedah.

The landmark decision affirms the supremacy of the Constitution and underscores the principle that the executive authority of a state government cannot extend to matters beyond the legislative competence of that state’s legislature.

The state government’s decision to not approve new business premises licences for licensed betting and its refusal to renew such existing business premises licences effective Jan 1, 2023 had caused financial strain for agents, employees and their family members.

The ban on NFO outlets has negatively impacted agents and the income of their employees and has had significant consequences for those who lost their livelihoods, leading them to face financial hardship and emotional distress.

“We welcome the High Court decision, which further held that the exercise of powers by the state government should be consistent with the powers of the federal government as stipulated in the Constitution.

“Since the day we were forced to shut down our business, our employees, who are mainly from the lower income group, were forced to abandon their hometown to be transferred to other outlets in adjacent states, and those who faced difficulties to leave their hometown became unemployed.

“We hope the state government will facilitate us in our efforts to renew business premises licenc es and allow our agents to recommence their (operations) as soon as possible,” said STM Lottery assistant general manager (northern region) Yip Kok Chyuan.

Meanwhile, Magnum head (northern region) Suy Kok Yik expressed gratitude over the development.

“The recent High Court ruling marks a significant milestone that brings immense relief and renewed hope to our agents.

“For more than 17 months, they have faced substantial financial burdens due to business disruptions.

“This decision alleviates those hardships and paves the way for a brighter future, enabling our agents to rebuild and continue their work with greater stability.