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Loss of slot machine jobs no small matter: NGO
Published on: Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Photo for illustration only.
Kota Kinabalu: The Welfare Association of Recreation Club employees  (PKPKRS) urged all parties to consider the plight of slot machine establishment workers and their families faced with a dilemma over the State Government’s decision to not renew the trading licences of these outlets.

 It said this was particularly so since it is not easy to find new jobs nowadays.

 PKPKRS President  Yap How Nam also expressed his disappointment over statements made by certain quarters, who even made light of the potential unemployment of such workers.

“Many of our colleagues are worried, not just about themselves but also their families. They are stressed, yet we read these statements in the media knocking us down. It is as if these workers don’t matter,” he said.

  “This is not about placing 10 or 100 workers. There are 3,000 club employees with 15,000 dependents. Some of us are older, some even approaching retirement. Who will hire us? Who will support our families if we lose our jobs?” asked Yap.

“It is easy to comment from afar when your livelihood is not affected. Put yourself in our shoes. If you are in our position, would you not be worried about your future?”

He said a substantial amount of revenue derived from gaming activities is used to offset the operating expenses of the clubs, including sports facilities and F&B operations.

 “Most of the active trade licences expire at the end of the year, which effectively leaves the clubs in financial limbo when 2020 comes around.

“If the clubs can find ways to be financially sustainable without the slot machines, then employees can be re-assigned other duties. But if the clubs have to downsize or close as they cannot sustain the operations without help from slot machines, then there is no chance of the employees being re-designated. They would lose their jobs,” said Yap.

 There are more than 40 clubs in Sabah, with some charging membership fees as low as RM5 with facilities ranging from swimming pools and badminton courts to golf courses and yachting. Some of these clubs have been in operation since the early 1900s.

“Nobody is forced to use the slot machines. It’s a facility for members. They can choose to spend some money at the machines, or not use them at all,” he said . 

Yap also stressed that no Muslims are allowed to work in the gaming room, in accordance with national laws.

“So not only are Muslims not allowed to use the slot machines, Muslim employees are also not allowed to work in the gaming room,” he said.

Yap thanked Consumers Front of Sabah (CFOS) President Nordin Thani who urged the State Government to step up efforts to wipe out illegal gambling activities in the state rather than go after licensed, tax-paying establishments with slot machines.

 Nordin had claimed that some of these illegal gambling operators are operating online gambling activities under the disguise of “mini markets” and “cafes”, using legal trading licences issued by the local authority.

 Nordin said closing the slot machine clubs which contributed to state revenue and create jobs won’t solve the problem because the public can gamble freely online using their smartphones or by patronising the “mini markets” and “cafes”.

 Yap also recalled Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah warning that illegal gambling syndicates in Sabah are now shifting their operations into rural areas and villages.

 “Illegal gambling is unlicensed, unregulated and is the real threat to society,” he said, and lauded the police for focusing its enforcement on such activities.



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