By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Nov 8: Sarawak should review its regulations on entertainment centres to promote eSports while curbing online gambling.
Tupong assemblyman Fazzrudin Abdul Rahman said licensing of eSports premises, categorised under entertainment businesses by the local government, had made it difficult for genuine operators as many others had abused their licences to operate online gambling.
This has affected the applications for eSports licences, he added.
“I hope the ministry (Local Government and Housing) would relook at the by-laws and regulations and make proper adjustments to strengthen enforcement.
“While we monitor the spread of online gambling outlets, we could open opportunity for the eSports industry to grow,” Fazzrudin, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Youth deputy chief, said when debating the State Budget 2019 today.
He observed that eSports was fast gaining popularity among youths in the state, where numerous competitions are held worldwide and offering extremely lucrative monetary prizes at the international level.
“If we look at the ecosystem, eSports promotes sporting activities as well as opportunities to generate income. We can open up a new economic industry, benefiting both players and operators,” he reckoned.
Fazzrudin added that advances in technology had evolved online gambling at a lightning pace.
“Back then, we received complaints of people frequenting electronic entertainment premises to gamble using machines. Enforcement agencies are quick to take action on these premises but now, one only need to top up on their telco credit to gamble online.
“This needs to be taken seriously and regulated as it would create negative effects on the local community. I have received lots of public complaints on the impact of these gambling sites that are easily accessible online,” he said.
On another matter, Fazzrudin suggested the government review its policies and come up with programmes to promote the growth of deep sea fishing sports in the state.
He said that fishing, as a hobby, had the potential to become a tourism industry and source of income to local boat owners. In Kuching alone, there are 50 boat owners and businesses that provide renting services to bring fishing enthusiasts out to sea.
However, these businesses are not registered to receive aid and enjoy the benefits of fishermen associations as they are not considered full-time fishermen.
“The issue they are facing right now is the purchasing of fuel for their boats, as permits to purchase fuel from petrol stations are given to business entities with permits from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.
“Furthermore, such permits restrict purchasing of fuel over 250 litres per day, and this could pose issues to those on fishing trips as they could spend days at sea,” he continued.
In this regards, Fazzrudin called for a review in the fuel regulations and registration of rental boats with the Marine Department to spur the growth of deep sea fishing sports and recreational activities.
The Tupong assemblyman also proposed that the state introduce an insurance scheme or medical card to aid individuals registered with the Welfare Department for their medical treatment, especially to purchase additional equipment and medical care not subsidised by the government. — DayakDaily