Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has written to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to block 12 websites in an attempt to counter betting involving cricket matches.
The law enforcers, who have been working closely with the Anti Corruption Unit of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, is convinced that illegal gambling took place through those websites during Bangladesh's home series against England and in the just-concluded Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), the glamorous and money-spinning T20 competition.
The black-listed websites are -- 888sport.com, betway.com, bet365.com, betfred.com, dafabet.com, betfair.com, unibet.com, betvictor.com, netbet.com, titanbet.com, winer.com and paddypower.com.
Although betting is illegal in Bangladesh, it has grown out of proportion with the success of the Bangladesh cricket team and more importantly since the introduction of the BPL in 2012. Besides, people in this part of the world were also involved in betting during overseas events including the Indian Premier League (IPL). And according to police these websites play the biggest role in syndicated betting with their representatives on the ground.
A mid-ranked DMP official told The Daily Star that they detained at least 60 alleged gamblers including three Indian nationals and four Pakistanis from inside and outside stadiums during BPL matches, suspecting their involvement in illegal betting.
“They were taken to custody but were released later on bond, because anyone convicted of illegal betting are liable to pay only Tk 100 as per the law,” the police officer told The Daily Star.
Preferring anonymity, he also told that the three Indian nationals, who also visited Bangladesh during the England series, were deported through the Indian High Commission while the Pakistani nationals were handed over to their embassy.
The police officer said it was easy to identify a gambler from a spectator because the gambler stays busy with his mobile phone rather than watching the game.
When contacted, Nazmul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of Cyber Security & Crime unit of DMP, confirmed that they wrote to BTRC to block those websites after a thorough investigation.
According to police, illegal betting took a serious turn recently as it involved all sections of the society including the young generation. Besides, the illegal betting syndicates that have been sprouting in every nook and corner of the country are sucking in even a farmer, a day labourer and a rickshawpuller.
The betting menace is growing because of the existing lenient law against it, said a police officer, adding that it should be revisited to bring the culprits to book.
The part of section 4 of Public Gambling Act-1869 reads: “Whoever is found in any such house, tent, room, space, or walled enclosure, playing or gaming with cards, dice, counters, money or other instruments of gaming, or is found there present for the purpose of gaming, whether playing for any money, wager, stake or otherwise, shall be liable, on conviction before any Magistrate, to a fine not exceeding one hundred taka or to imprisonment of either description, as defined in the 9[ Penal Code], for any term not exceeding one month.”
Unfortunately we are living in the 21st century and the definition of gambling and its impact increased manifold instead of just being confined to playing cards or rolling the dice. And like an aggrieved police officer, many strongly feel that the gambling law should be updated to counter the betting epidemic, which is seriously hurting the society.
“The BCB through its anti-corruption unit is working with the police to counter betting in cricket. Still, I think the law should be time-befitting for a more concerted effort to fight this evil,” said the BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury while confirming that the board has been sharing its knowledge about betting with police for quite some time.
When contacted, Law Secretary ASSM Zahirul Haque Dulal told The Daily Star that the home ministry is the proper authority to take steps to amend the law for enhancing punishment for gambling.
He also added that the law ministry will assist the home ministry if it takes any initiative to this effect.
It's about time the home ministry takes a step forward from 1869.