National, Front Page

Online gambling a major threat

Money laundering rife thru online betting

Published : 13 Mar 2024 10:35 PM | Updated : 21 Mar 2024 04:18 PM

Online gambling has emerged as a major threat across the country from cities to remote rural areas.

With multiple syndicates comprising local and foreign individuals, crores of taka is being laundered from the country through this newly emerged illicit online business.

Most of these sites and apps are operated from abroad, and their addiction has spread beyond cities to remote areas of Bangladesh.

People concerned have said that many people are becoming addicted to online gambling due to the easy affordability and availability of credit, debit cards, and Mobile Financial Services (MFS).

In the meantime, many criminal groups/gangs are laundering a massive amount of money abroad through online gambling and abuse of various apps.

Betting is done for money on the latest results of a cricket game or how many runs or fours/sixes will be scored in one over. The entire gambling activity takes place online. This is the modern version of gambling. 

Starting from the streets of the village, in the city clubs, elite areas, and even inside their own houses, alone or a few people are sitting in gambling sessions. Many are becoming destitute due to greed.

Nowadays, advertisements of various online gambling and betting sites and apps appear on the screen as soon as one enters a social media site, or any kind of site for that matter, using a smartphone or a computer.The investigation revealed that bets are made on national-level cricket games like BPL, CPL, and IPL. 

Massive online gambling activities were held centering the recently completed Bangladesh Premier League. 

Online gambling is mainly conducted on apps such as One X Bet, Bet365, Bovada, Xbet and others. 

Gambling management and gambling are both done through smartphones. Due to the advancement of technology, online gambling money transactions are done in mobile banking.

Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, said, “Soon online gambling apps will be completely banned. 

Illegal propaganda on social media is extremely harmful to individuals, institutions, and states. Those concerned should take the initiative to stop it at any cost.”

Law and order forces are active in stopping online gambling. However, officials are also facing challenges as the trend of gambling participation increases.

CID chief and Additional IGP Mohammad Ali Mia said, “We have continued the operation continuously. But if one site closes, ten more gambling sites open immediately. 

Some media outlets also advertise gambling. Media, police, and mobile banking operators all have to work together to stop online gambling. Then it will be easy to stop such cybercrime.”

Advertisements of gambling apps are attracting youngsters with the lure of payment facilities through some banks and Mobile Financial Services (MFS) in the country. 

Various gambling companies freely promote their advertisements on social media, such as Facebook and YouTube. As a result, online gambling has spread from the neighbourhoods of the city to the villages.

Law enforcement agencies say that many people have been arrested on different occasions as gambling is still illegal in Bangladesh. BTRC has blocked local access to such sites, but gamblers are still accessing those using Virtual Private Networks or VPNs.

The Public Gambling Act, 1867 had a different clause and contexts in the country. Its implementation is currently quite tricky due to some weaknesses. The word casino does not exist in that law. 

Even though gambling is prohibited by law, there is no regulation of gambling advertising. Gambling advertisements are aired on TV channels, especially during cricket-football league matches of various countries.

Kusum Dewan, Deputy Inspector General (Organised Crime) of CID, said, “Many complaints regarding online gambling apps are coming to us; we are working on it. We cannot stop them if we wish. 

Many people download it and gamble online through VPN. Still, we keep trying. Several apps have also been closed in our efforts. We are taking action against these criminals.”

This official of CID said “They have received information about 200 gambling sites, apps, YouTube and Facebook links. Each is being investigated separately. The issue of bringing those involved under law is under process.”