BOWLING centres in Penang do not have to pay for entertainment licence and entertainment duty from next year.
State Youth and Sports Committee chairman Soon Lip Chee said the state executive council had on Dec 17 approved the guidelines for exemption from the entertainment licence and entertainment duty on tenpin bowling activities in Penang from Jan 1, 2021.
“Tenpin bowling is considered a highly prestigious sports that is competed in the World Championships, Asian Games and SEA Games.
“Penang is the first state in Malaysia to do away with the entertainment licence and entertainment duty for tenpin bowling centres.
“This effort demonstrates the commitment of the Penang state government to develop and promote tenpin bowling activities as an international and prestigious sports activity,” Soon told a press conference at Komtar today.
There are six bowling centres in Penang, namely Megamall Bowling Centre and Ole Ole Superbowl in Seberang Perai and Classic Bowl Prangin Mall, Classic Bowl Bukit Jambul, Penang Bowl and Aspiration Bowling Centre in Penang island.
He said with the new ruling, bowling centres would be able to save on entertainment licence fee of about RM5,000 to RM8,000 depending on the number of lanes they have.
Soon said the bowling centre operators, however, have to pay for the premises’ licence and advertisement licence like any other business operation.
He added that the Penang State Sports Council has been tasked to supervise and monitor the level of guideline compliance with reference to local authorities.
“I hope this sport can be intensified again and at the same time produce state athletes who can make the state and country proud like Adrian Ang and Esther Cheah,” Soon said.
He said three other sports – snooker, billiards and darts – are however not exempted from entertainment licence and duty.
Also present were Penang State Sports Council (PSSC) director Harry Chai Heng Hua, Penang Tenpin Bowling Association (PTBA) secretary Cheah Ban Cheng, representatives of several bowling centres and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP).
Chai said PSSC fully supports the state government’s decision to approve the entertainment licence and duty exemption for tenpin bowling activities.
“With the exemption, we hope to establish a stronger cooperation with the bowling centre operators to further promote the sport and unearth more talents.
“We desire to restore the glorious era of Penang bowling as a powerhouse that has produced bowlers like Lai Kin Ngoh, Mak Choong Yee and Aaron Khong, all of whom have been champions in the SEA Games,” Chai said.
Cheah said the PTBA was proud of the decision taken by the Penang government through the local authorities, MBPP and MBSP, to exempt bowling centres from the entertainment licence and duty.
He said the history of bowling in Malaysia started with its first centre in Penang in 1961 when six lanes were the centre of pride at the International Hotel known as Penang Bowl.
“Bowling was a rich man’s game and glamorous pastime then. It was also considered a parlour game, and the place was considered a place for entertainment for the people and family. That’s why the local authorities imposed an entertainment licence fee.
“In 2006, the Youth and Sports Ministry introduced bowling as one of the core sports. The Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress changed the concept of tenpin bowling from an entertainment standpoint to sports bowling.
“From then, we do not allow students or young athletes especially to be involved in gambling, drinking and smoking in the centres. Likewise, this happened across the world.
“We should be proud to be the first state where bowling centres do not have to pay for entertainment licence and duty.
“The Penang Tenpin Bowling Association is proud to rejoice with this achievement we have made under the sports leadership of YB Soon Lip Chee.
“It only shows that sports bowling in Penang truly lives up to its name. Again, this is another feather in the cap for the state of Penang as well as the Penang State Sports Council,” said Cheah.
Aspiration Bowling Centre administrator Nurfarihan Azmi and legal adviser See Swee Sie, who were also at the press conference, said they were grateful to the state government for the entertainment licence and duty exemption.
“Bowling activities and businesses are badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. So, the approval by the state government to exempt us from the entertainment licence and duty is certainly helpful to us,” said Nurfarihan.
Aspiration Bowling Centre is equipped with 32 lanes and located at Level 5, Sunshine Square in Bayan Baru.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Law Suun Ting