BPL betting claims another life
The Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) is only in its fifth edition this year but more importantly, the glamorous T20 cricket competition has become the most followed and money-spinning domestic sporting event. Unfortunately, the BPL caravan has also brought along the evil of betting with it. More painfully, we have had another casualty due to betting in the country yesterday.
The man who has been identified as a victim of an all consuming evil is Nasim Ahmed. A BBA student of a private university in Dhaka, the 23-year-old was stabbed to death on Monday morning reportedly by a group of thugs for 'protesting' betting happening close to his Badda residence the previous night when a BPL game was going on in Sylhet.
Police are investigating the incident. Our focus is not whether he was protesting or not but instead the evil practice itself because it is an open secret that betting frenzy returns with the BPL every year. It involves everybody: from the rich to the poor, from an aged individual to a student in a country where betting is illegal. We do not have any survey that would help identify how much money is involved in betting during the more than a month-long BPL tournament. But independent international studies suggest that the amount is more than a billion dollars if we consider the involvement of unsolicited betting syndicates in India and the Middle East.
But betting in Bangladesh is at a grassroots level and massively involves students, day labourers, rickshaw pullers and even farmers. The BPL was meant to be pure entertainment but it has turned into a bonanza for those betting syndicates, who have been sucking money out of the poor and strayed youths in every nook and corner of the country. Although high-stake betting is taking place secretly, small scale betting is being conducted openly.
You just need to walk out of your home and look for a tea stall or a small gathering on the street where there is a television showing BPL matches live to find small scale bets being placed that range from how many runs will be scored off a delivery to who is going to win the game.
This small scale betting has been growing like an epidemic and tragically Nasim has become another casualty of it. If this is overlooked then we are destined to endure more deaths in the future. This is something law enforcers can curb substantially if not wipe out completely.
When the BPL governing council member secretary IH Mallick was updated about the tragic death yesterday he admitted that betting is on the rise to an alarming level. He also said that the Bangladesh Cricket Board has a role to raise awareness against this illegal practice.
"Those who bet not only lose money but also create all sorts of tension in an otherwise peaceful family. We are seriously thinking of doing something to fight this evil. I'm not sure whether it would be possible for us to come up with a slogan during the on-going BPL so that we can create awareness among the people against betting. But we will definitely work out something in the future," said Mallick.
Awareness against betting is something our cricketing heroes can campaign for massively. But more serious actions from law enforcers and tougher laws are of paramount importance if we are to stop this epidemic feeding on cricket-ainment.