Despite protests from civil society, religious groups and opposition figures, the government has gone ahead to legalise sports gambling.
According to Sin Chew Daily, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is also Finance Minister, yesterday issued a betting license to the Berjaya Group.
Meanwhile, the country's legendary footballer Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat or popularly known as 'Raja Bola' feels the idea to legalise football betting for the World Cup would lead to the demise of local football later.
Ghani said issuing licence to operators of football betting centres during the World Cup would lead to similar requests for local competitions, especially the M-League, and that would spell the death of local football.
"I am worried that legalising football betting in countries where football is developing, will kill the sport. If you add fuel to a burning fire, it may in the end burn you," he told Bernama in Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday.
Ghani, a prolific goal scorer for the national team during his heydays as a player for Selangor and Malaysia during the 'Golden Era of the 60s' said legalising football may also lead to the bribery scandal that rocked the country in 1994 and 1995.
Recently, Deputy Finance Minister Senator Datuk Awang Adek Hussein had told the Dewan Negara that the government may consider application's for as a means of stopping illegal bookies, adding that the government viewed the threat of illegal gambling seriously as it generated other social problems such as illegal money lending, organised crime and money laundering.
The M-League was rocked by a bribery scandal in 1994 that led to 126 players, coaches and officials being hauled up for investigations by the police.
The scandal followed an extensive police investigation that games in the Malaysian Premier League, which included teams from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, had been rigged by bookmakers.
Subsequently, 58 players were suspended between one to four years by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), while police charged 27 leading players and three bookmakers for match fixing.
Some were banned for life and barred from playing in competitions organised by FAM while some were exiled to other districts or states for a specific period of time. That bribery scandal also saw the cream of the crop in Malaysia football, being erased from the playing fields.
Meanwhile, Terengganu Football Association President Datuk Che Mat Jusoh said he does not welcome any activities related to gambling or betting that involved sports.
"Football is a sport and should not be linked to gambling or betting. We cannot mix sports with gambling as the motive of winning in gambling has the vested interest of an individual while is in sports, especially football, it is a team effort," he said.
He added that legalising football betting would tarnish the sporting spirit of players and local football as a whole.