We go gambling in a rickshaw, dreaming of returning in a fifty lakh Taka car and end up returning in a one crore taka jalopy of a bus. To stay away from this vice, we must be active, we must exercise, but make sure we are nowhere near any sporting clubs as several have adopted the new slogan: “Who wants to be a millionaire?”. As a result, the most expensive football club is no longer Real Madrid, but our very own Fakirapool Young Men’s Club.
So, why go to Las Vegas? Now, What Happens in Fakirapool, Stays in Fakirapool…Panir Tanki! No wonder Bangladesh is 208th in the FIFA ranking—our football clubs are busy practicing football with Lilliput sized roulette balls.
Slot machines are breeding like Aedes mosquitoes. No wonder we can’t find any cash at any of the omnipresent ATMs in Gulistan. But thanks to the flood of cash flowing around the casinos there, the five dozen banks in the country can forget those ATMs and just set up branches at the glitzy joints.
Gulistan is the new Las Vegas Strip. Seeing so many casinos, guess who may just show up in town—President Donald Trump! He will make Gulistan great again by building a H-E-E-E-U-U-G-E wall around it. And you know who’s going to pay for it? Fakirapool!
But we, the average sports enthusiasts, are hurt. Our beloved sports clubs have been besmirched at the roll of a dice. But why? Were the sporting clubs looking to diversify their portfolios beyond football and cricket by getting into “indoor” sports? Or was it that there was a bid for Gulistan to be the location for the next 007 movie Casino Loyal (to the few) or the nearby Fakirapool being ground zero for From Fakirapool with Love? Or was it that just as matches between Barca and Real Madrid are known as El Clasico, we had this wild urge of coining the matches between Mohammedan and Victoria Sporting as El Casino?
No. It’s chi-ching. Duh! Money talks. It can sing and dance and it can walk. In fact, it can even roll the dice. Let’s not also forget that it is an addiction. And if we really had to go all out to satiate this obsession, did we really need casinos? Don’t we have an infinite list of items to bet on? The moment we open our eyes in the morning, we enter the world of the virtual casino—we gamble with the tainted milk at breakfast, we bet in dodging the Aedes without applying the unaffordable Odomos. As we hit the road, we gamble on not getting hit by a UFO (Unruly Fast Object). We gamble on “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away” with the formalin laden apple, prompting the doctor to actually show up. We wave our hands frantically like the arm of a slot machine while jay walking, expecting all incoming traffic to come to a screeching halt because, we, our royal highnesses, are too lazy to take the foot over bridge. And last, but not the least, there is the highest probability of asking this question: “During the morning rush hour, how many hours will it take to go from Sadarghat to Uttara?” Ok, now what is the number of possible options as answers to this question? See? Even the roulette doesn’t have that many section bets (slots).
Casinos are illegal. Hence the stakes here are twice as high—there is the risk of losing and the risk of getting caught. Therefore, gambling in Bangladesh is a gamble. And if one really gets caught at the casino, he can just play dumb: “Oh, I came here to audition for Who will be Masud Rana”.
But the irony of it all is that despite Dhaka having so many casinos, all that dough from Bangladesh Bank, located not too far away from all the action, had to end up at casinos so far away in Manila…
Well, the legendary names of Mohammedan, Victoria will never be the same. The only consolation, Badda Jagoroni now has a shot at winning the Premier League as many of the other clubs have been busy with casinos, playing Russian Roulette, literally…
Naveed Mahbub is a former engineer at Ford & Qualcomm USA, the former CEO of IBM & Nokia Networks Bangladesh turned comedian (by choice), the host of ATN Bangla’s The Naveed Mahbub Show and the founder of Naveed’s Comedy Club. E-mail: Naveed@NaveedMahbub.com