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An interfaith coalition has called for a ban on slot machines and mini-casinos in Sabah, Malaysia. Currently, there are 40 clubs which have over 400 slot machines in the region.

When asked if he supports the interfaith coalition’s stand, Chief Minister of the state, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, said that he is against any new casino or slot machine in Sabah.

“For gambling, I am very clear I will not allow it in Sabah. However, the Ministry of Finance still issues licenses.” he said.

Explaining why he was opposed to casino and gambling Shafie said: “When there are people whose salaries are between RM2,000 and RM3,000, I don’t want them spending it on slot machines while their children at home don’t have enough food.”

“You want to play mahjong, go ahead, but no money. I know mahjong is very important, it is like that in my hometown. But no gambling, slot machines or casinos. I won’t approve of that. Not in Sabah.”

On multiple occasions, interfaith and religious groups have demonstrated against mini casinos in Sabah. Those in opposition say that they don’t want Sabah to become a gambling destination and as such, they are committed to putting an end to all gambling activities.

An interfaith coalition representing all religions including Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims said that they want an end to gambling and casino in Sabah and that the government’s plan to limit gambling with a tax hike is a bluff.

A joint statement issued to the press read, “With all due respect, we consider it immoral for the state or charities to raise money by exploiting people’s stupidity, greed, addiction, and poverty. Taxing gambling is a regressive tax as the poor pay a greater proportion of their income in tax than the rich.”