The Gambling Farms of the Federated Malay States
No doubt you have heard of dairy farms, vegetable farms and the like, but what about “Gambling Farms”?
The term Gambling Farms (so-called because they were run by representatives of syndicates termed farmers) seems to have originated from the Federated Malay States (FMS), for although gambling was prohibited in other British territories, in the FMS, “farmers” were given exclusive rights to set up gambling houses in return for a payment to the government.
By law, only Chinese were allowed onto the premises of these gambling farms. The British justified the legalizing of gambling by claiming that the Chinese were hardened gamblers (a claim which was later refuted by the ‘Protector of Chinese’ – how could he?) and that if they did not do so the Chinese would gamble in their mining kongsis anyway. The licensed gambling farms, which enticed coolies by hiring prostitutes as bankers, staging shows and offering sumptuous delicacies, brought in more than $3 million in revenue to the FMS government every year. However it was said that the moral tone of the Chinese community was deteriorating because of the Farms and in 1905, an Anti-Gambling Petition was sent by the rich and influential Towkays of the Chinese community to the High Commissioner. Not much was done to improve the situation however (after all the government were making big bucks) and it was only in 1913 that the ‘Common Gaming Houses Enactment’ took effect, outlawing most forms of gambling in the FMS.