As a child, Bengali grammar was taught as an example of factors and divisions, “how many boys ruin their studies playing cards”. It seemed then to be only an example and the life lesson it contained was not understood, as it seems now.
Although cards are a game for many people, it is still an easy and widely used form of gambling in our country. Now, maybe we should say “how many people waste their lives gambling”.
Although the game is officially banned in Bangladesh, the game has been played in various ways in villages and towns for centuries and today its form has changed a lot. It was not as widely played in the past as it is today, and very few people directly participated in such games. Although there are many other types of gambling, which may not be gambling in the conventional sense; But money is also exchanged there. For example, it is often seen that “bets” are made between two or more individuals to do something or do, and money or something of value is paid to the winners in the form of bets.
To the naked eye, this may seem like a challenge, but his intentions are not always noble. Often this type of work is done in a group and everyone is betting for one person or group for the sake of profit.
Gambling is a game that oscillates between profit and loss. Gambling is basically a certain amount of money or an object set as a prize, which the winning party receives. Gambling in its general sense is about winning money for money. Getting money is key here and a lot of people lose everything for it. It is said that in the past people sacrificed their homes, valuables and even their wives and children for this and lost everything. This game is still played today and is legal in many countries.
Gambling is a major international commercial activity, although it is not legally recognized in many countries around the world, including Bangladesh. According to the World Gambling Market Report 2022-26, the gambling market was worth US$287.43 billion in 2021. In 2022 it will be US$498.93 billion and in 2026 it will be US$840.29 billion. U.S. dollars.
Although the actual calculation is quite difficult to understand; Because many countries are missing and it is not possible to know the traditional game. This report shows how the game type and the market is developing year on year. While gambling is legal in most countries in Europe and the Americas, Asia is one of the biggest gambling markets. It is difficult to get specific information about the gambling market in Bangladesh, but various sources suggest that the online gambling market in the country is slowly growing and widespread in many ways.
In our country, examples of such works centered on fairs, processions or sometimes events are not uncommon. A common game at the fair is to pop balloons by shooting them with air guns. Another game is to throw a disc somewhere and push it into the ring. Whoever can push the disc through a certain number of rings wins a prize. Most people just play it for fun and no matter the outcome, people are happy to have fun. They are festive and people do not hesitate. Accordingly, its effect is limited in time, and after the game everyone goes back to their work. But when sport becomes an addiction, becomes a profession, it is no longer limited to entertainment.
A lottery ticket sales cycle has been active in the country for a long time. After the 1990s, the sale of 10 taka lottery tickets was organized as the National Sports Development Fund, which continued for several years. Since then, selling lottery tickets on behalf of various organizations has become a routine activity. I don’t know how much organizations have grown from this, but there is no doubt that many people have invested money for rewards. It is also a simple example of gambling. In other words, even though gambling is not officially legalized in the country, gambling was and still is practiced in various ways. Again, having play sessions in many clubs, elite areas and homes is nothing new. And now it has grown and people can do it at home with various online game apps. In particular, the availability of the Internet and smartphones has opened up this opportunity.
Recently, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (BTRC) blocked 331 online gambling sites from the country’s national network. It is also said that many have turned to online gambling due to the availability of credit or debit cards. Some criminal gangs are taking advantage of this opportunity to smuggle millions of rupees out of the country. BTRC said 150 Google apps related to online gambling or betting have been flagged for shutdown by contacting Google authorities. Already, Google authorities have shut down 14 apps and are taking necessary action, including verifying to shut down the remaining apps. It’s a very good initiative; But many people think that it is not possible to solve the problem in this way. Because there are many online gambling sites, so it will not be possible to stop them all. Not only online, but over the phone or live, gambling is no less common.
In this context, it is first necessary to clarify the government’s position and legal interpretation on gambling. Article 18 of our Constitution stipulates that the State must take effective measures to prevent prostitution and gambling. However, the provisions and context of the existing Open Gambling Act-1867 were different, which is not suitable for today, according to legal scholars. The law does not include the word casino and is currently difficult to enforce due to several other weaknesses. In 2013, a High Court bench dismissed a motion seeking permission to gamble. In 2016, Supreme Court lawyers Mohammad Samiul Haque and Rokan Uddin demanded a ban on gambling by highlighting these articles and arguments of the law. Two attorneys for Farooq have filed a subpoena. The Appeals Division ordered all parties to settle the High Court gambling decision within 8 weeks; But it was not done at the time. As a result, the state’s position on gambling here is unclear.
The use of online gambling is now growing rapidly in the country, which is spreading beyond the city limits into rural areas. Since the game can be played at home, it is often not possible to know their activities. However, if the government wishes, it can collect information about those who gamble on these sites. In addition, legal action may be taken against the owners of the credit/debit cards used or the cards may be closed. The central bank can draw up a list of online gambling or betting sites and provide it to all banks. Or initiatives can be taken to automatically block all types of financial transactions on these links. Each bank can be responsible for properly monitoring problems and taking action accordingly. At the same time, initiatives can be taken to impose fines or prosecute banks in the event of bankruptcy. Research and statistics show that gambling is most prevalent among young people, on whom the future of the country depends. The government therefore has no choice but to take strict measures to ban gambling.
Abul Kashem Ujjal: Lecturer, Department of Social Work, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet