The main opposition party in Bangladesh says it is not in support of the government’s plan to open a casino zone just for foreigners alone. This particular sentiment was also echoed by the nation’s finance minister.
The reactions so far on this proposal has been fierce. The announcement was made on Tuesday by the Secretary of Civil Aviation and Tourism Mohibul Haque. He said that the government had concluded plans to establish 4 “exclusive tourist zones” where tourists brandishing foreign passports can place wagers in casinos.
Haque was of the opinion that three zones would be constructed on the nation’s border that they share with India. The border is in the districts of Bagerhat, Satkhira and Khulna. The fourth zone would be located Cox’s Bazar close the border shared with Myanmar.
This proposal would not see the light of day if Abdul Moyeen Khan is to have his way. He’s the leader of Bangladesh’s opposition party BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party). According the Dhaka Tribune, Moyeen was quoted saying the proposal is an immoral step. He noted that betting is a forbidden activity in Bangladesh.
According to him, what is considered a sin among Bangladeshis cannot be of any good to foreigners. Moyeen was also concerned about the fact that the casinos are close to populated areas and would spread among Bangladeshis.
AHM Mustafa Kamal also voiced his objections. He is a member of the Awami League party and the nation’s finance minister, he was of the opinion that gambling cannot be accepted in any way. However, Kamal was curious at how the government functions, as he said that an unlawful activity could not be made legal by simply altering the laws.
Various leaders of the Jubo League, which is the youth branch of the Awami League, have been reproached for being complicit in their operations. This is because more than 60 illegal casinos were discovered to be running in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka. Most of these casinos were found in sporting clubs. According to the club directors, they claimed that they allowed them to run because of political pressure.
On Wednesday, Prothom Alo, a local media outlet reported that some documents that were seized during raids on the Mohammedan, a Sporting Club revealed payments to the tune of BTK 500,000 (US $5,900) daily in business promotion expenditure, which is was deciphered as a code for payoffs made to the local police and politicians.
Kamal, Finance Minister said the authorities were going through bank records to know those that have anything to do with the operation of the casinos. Kamal declared that the appropriate action would be taken against any individual who cannot explain the how some funds got into their account.
The media narrative that’s developing shows that about 100 Nepalese nationals were involved in the day to day function of the casinos. These foreign nationals were in the country on tourist visas and there are unconfirmed reports that most of them fled after last week’s raids. There were some allegations in some quarters that they were tipped off by corrupt local policemen.
The Daily Star pointed to the fact that Bangladesh’s legislative incompetence as regards gambling, which is forbidden is quite absurd. Meanwhile, the importation of products related to gambling like gaming tables, slot machines, cards, chips, and dice is not banned. The gear seized during raids was approved by the country’s customs officials and they came through local airports in about 5 consignments over a 2-year time frame that ended in November 2018.
The Dhaka Tribune also noted that about 200 individuals that have been arrested in the casino raids have been charged with weapons, narcotics, and money laundering charges. None of the arrested persons have being charged with illegal gambling. This is because the gambling prohibition act which is about 152 years old is so extremely inadequate in today’s situations.