The government, facing its most serious budgetary crisis in decades, is leaning towards allowing gaming tycoon Vincent Tan Chee Yioun to revive a potentially lucrative gaming concession.
Government sources and financial executives close to the businessman said Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration has agreed in principle to allow Tan, who controls the Berjaya Group, to proceed with the concession, which permits nationwide 'off site' sports betting, according to a Straits Times report.
But the government could face a potential backlash from the predominantly Muslim population, they added.
"The economic rationale for allowing this is very compelling, but the PM has to weigh the political fallout because the opposition will have a field day," said a government official close to the situation.
Tan, one of Malaysia's most politically well-connected businessmen, declined comment.
Bankers close to the businessman said that he had been actively lobbying the government for the past six months to allow him to activate his licence.
He told the government that it was losing hundreds of millions of dollars in foregone tax revenue to illegal betting syndicates. — The Straits Times