2yrs of Casino Drives: Online gambling now uncontrolled
It all started with a buzz -- raiding well-known sporting clubs only to discover running of gambling and illegal casino business where ruling party leaders were at the helm.
Although the month-long drive largely contained sporting club-based gambling, online gambling continues, dodging the law enforcers' eyes.
On September 18, 2019, the much-talked about crackdown on gambling, extortion, land grabbing and other forms of corruption started with raids at five sporting clubs.
Though government high-ups repeatedly hinted that the drive would continue, it apparently lost steam after a series of raids that saw the arrests of over 250 people, including several leaders of different affiliated bodies of ruling Awami League. There has been no such drives since November 1 that year.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Commander Khandaker Al Moin, director, legal and media wing of Rab that spare-headed the drives, said now the club-based casino and gambling has been contained. "We are collecting intelligence. If we found any such activities again, we will re-launch drives."
He, however, admitted that online-based gambling was going on and their cyber monitoring unit was on alert.
"Whenever we get information, we launch raids," he added.
On September 14, detectives arrested three members of an online gambling gang -- Delwar Hossain, Mohiuddin and Jamal Mia -- in the capital's Demra area.
In May, Anti-Terrorism Unit held four members of a gang on charge of smuggling money using a social media gambling app called StreamKar. Using various apps and sites, online gambling continues, say law enforcers.
They said online gambling is being done during cricket matches through bitcoin or digital currency (cryptocurrency). They said crores of taka are being siphoned off through online gambling. During the drive against the casino business, around 30 operations were conducted at 22 places.
Rab arrested immediate-past Dhaka City Jubo League (south unit) president Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat, organising secretary Khaled Mahmud Bhuiyan, vice-president Enamul Haque Arman and Dhaka City North unit joint general secretary and ward councillor Tarequzzaman Rajib, and Krishak League central committee member Shafiqul Alam Feroz on charges of running illegal casino business.
Jubo League later expelled all these leaders.
Names of several patronisers came out in media reports, but no legal action has yet been taken against them.
The arrestees also include Jubo League leader and tender Mogul GK Shamim. Shamim, Mohammedan Sporting Club's director-in-charge Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan, Online casino kingpin Selim Prodhan, three local AL leaders and ward councillors Moynul Haque Manju and Habibur Rahman Mizan were also arrested.
A huge quantity of gambling equipment, liquor, 22 firearms, Tk 8.45 crore in cash, FDR worth Tk 166.27 crore, gold ornaments weighing around eight kg were seized in the drives. Besides, Rab mobile courts fined or sentenced 204 others to different terms of imprisonment.
The Rab crackdown brought to light how a group of political leaders in alliance with some sports organisers turned renowned sporting clubs in the capital into lavish establishments to run casino businesses round the clock.
Rab, Criminal Investigation Department and Anti-Corruption Commission officials filed 58 cases against 15 people. Rab investigated 10 of the cases and already submitted charge sheets in nine cases.
A top ACC official said they have already submitted charge sheets in 13 of some 22 graft cases they were tasked with probing.
The rest are being investigated by police.