Online gambling platform criticised for 'inappropriate' Raya ad, police to investigate

Online gambling platform GDBet333 has come under fire in Malaysia, after it released an ad that encouraged Muslims to gamble so they can win some money and celebrate Hari Raya. The ad, which was said to be first uploaded on the company's YouTube channel, featured a cheerful song with lyrics that promotes gambling via GDBet333's platform. The storyline follows a male character who was sad as he did not have much money to return home and celebrate the upcoming Hari Raya festivities.

He then heads to GDBet333's website, and with a click, won RM2,000. This allowed the male character to get a car and drive back home to visit his family for Hari Raya. The video then showed multiple talent joyfully singing while promoting the online gambling site.

The ad has since been removed from GDBet333's YouTube channel but recordings of it are currently circulating online. Just today, the Malaysian police said it will investigate the producers and actors involved in this video under section 504 of the penal code and section 4 (1) (g) of the Open Gambling Houses Act. The police added that they will be tracked down and called to give evidence. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will also be contacted to assist in the investigation.

Since its release, many netizens on Twitter took offence to the ad, claiming that it is inappropriate for GDBet333 to encourage Muslims to gamble, especially during Ramadan. The reason being gambling goes directly against the religious teachings on Islam. One particular netizen said on Twitter that this was GDBET333 manipulating a Hari Raya ad into a gambling ad to "promote immoral activities". Meanwhile, another netizen questioned how the ad was created in the first place. "From the actors, singers, lyricists, editing, if you are a Muslim, wouldn't you know that this thing promotes gambling?" the netizen asked in the tweet.

Separately, another netizen also said it was unnecessary for GDBet333 to promote its services with the ad. "Not all Muslims practice 100% religious teachings," he said, adding that those who would gamble would already use its services. "GDbet333 doesn't need to make ads, there are still many customers," the netizen said.

Meanwhile, MCMC said following the publication of the ad, it has communicated with media platform providers such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to remove the content. "At the same time, the parties involved such as the production team and the actors should be more sensitive not to abet in the activities of promoting online gambling, which is clearly an offence," the statement added. 

Additionally, MCMC said content production is subjected to the communications and multimedia content code to be complied with by those involved with the production and distribution of content. In the freedom to provide content, providers must follow a content code that conforms to the norms of a pluralistic Malaysian society. Social media users should also be more responsible by reporting such matters directly to the authorities for their follow-up action rather than disseminating the content, MCMC added. "The act of disseminating the content will only directly help the parties involved in spreading their message to promote online gambling which can be detrimental to the Malaysian community," it said.

Photo courtesy: Screenshot from the video recording circulating online

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