Gambling, which came to an almost halt following a crackdown launched on casinos last year, has staged a comeback and is running at new spots in different forms, including electronic carom board.
The most worrying fact is that it has spread to various parts of the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.Many locally influential people are operating the illegal gambling dens, intelligence sources said.
The matter was already conveyed to the higher authorities and action was also taken in some cases, they said.
Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) launched a crackdown on casinos on September 18, 2019, which was later joined by different other agencies, including police and the Department of Narcotics Control.
Drives were conducted at around 50 casinos that were running at different clubs, including sports ones, and huge arrests were made.
A number of big Jubo League leaders, including Ismail Chowdhury Samrat, Khalid Mahmud Bhuiyan, GK Shamim, Enamul Haque Enu and Rupon Bhuyian, were also booked for their involvement in running casinos.
However, gambling has returned and it is running in new spots in the capital as well as different parts of the country.Admitting the fact, Lt Col Ashique Billah, director (Legal and Media) of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), told the Daily Sun that they observed the playing of gambling has seen a sharp rise across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The banned gambling is being played both manually and online. It has been found mainly in remote areas where people have no other sources of entertainment. Mostly, people from lower-income group are playing gambling through carom boards and other ways after the evening,” he said.
The Rab director said they conducted raids on illegal gambling dens and arrested a big number of gamblers over the last few months.
The sources said many of those, who used to run casinos at sports clubs in Motijheel in the capital, returned to their old business after opening new gambling spots hiring houses in different city areas.
And their customers are none other than those who earlier played at the casinos.
Gambling spots are running mainly at Kadamtali, Motijheel, Jurain, Paltan, Kamrangirchar and Shahbagh, and Keraniganj, said reliable sources.
Some spots are located by Dhanai Jubo Shakti Club, on the third floor of Ayesha Shopping Complex in Shanir Akhra, Gabindapur Bazar, on the fourth floor of Kalam Market in Goalbari Crossing, by Rayerbagh Petrol Pump and the west side of Kadamtali Police Station.
The sources said illegal drugs, including Yaba and Phensedyl, are also being sold at the gambling dens.
Locals said gambling is regularly run at some flats at Hujurpara, Kholamura Ghat, Madbar Bazar, Munshihati and Nabinagar in Kamrangirchar, and Ati Bazar, Zianagar and Kholamura in Keraniganj in the suburb of the city.
Wishing not to be named, a gambler told the Daily Sun that those, who used to regularly play gambling at casinos at Motijheel, are now playing gambling at new spots in those areas.
Gambling is also running across the country.
It is alleged that different clubs and even offices of different political parties are being used as gambling spots.
Police and Rab arrested about 160 gamblers from Savar, Ashulia and Dhamrai in Dhaka and Kishoreganj in October, November and December.
Rab-4 busted a mini casino at Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital on October 25 and seized different items for playing gambling, including an electronic carom board.
Mozammel Haque, commanding officer of the Rab-4, said gambling of about Tk 10-15 lakh used to take place at the mini casino every night.
He said locally influential Plabon Hossain, Ismail and Omar Faruk ran the spot. They brought the electronic board from Malaysia.
Police and Rab arrested about 100 gamblers in Kishoreganj in the last one month.
The elite force has recently raided gambling spots in Mymensingh and Rangpur and arrested many gamblers, according to the Rab Headquarters.
Contacted, Walid Hossain, deputy commissioner (Media and Public Relations) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told the Daily Sun that they were conducting regular raids against gamblers.
Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general (Media and Public Relations) of the Police Headquarters, said: “There’re some social factors that may encourage gambling. We’re discussing about the insufficiency of the legal provisions in this regard.”
With the digital advancement and social media incorporation, online gambling has taken a greater shape, he said, adding that their cyber mechanism has increased monitoring of the online gambling. “We’ve been carrying out awareness programmes, too. Within the legal authority, police try their best to stop gambling.”