• Sunday, Dec 08, 2019
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Skilled Chinese, Nepalese nationals hired to run Dhaka's casinos

  • Published at 11:25 pm September 19th, 2019
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Casino equipment, imported by gamblers taking advantage of the benign import policy, have recently been seized by law enforcers from a sport club in the capital Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Casino visitors had to pass three levels of security checking and answer questions at the entrances, says RAB

Skilled professionals from China and Nepal have been brought in to casinos to operate modern electronic gambling boards in Dhaka. They got a monthly salary to control the boards.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) which led the raid on illegal casinos in Motijheel, Fakirapool, Gulistan, and Banani on Wednesday night, found this. They will now investigate whether the foreigners had any work permits or not.

On Thursday morning, RAB raided a house in the capital's Segunbagicha to nab foreigners engaged in Dhaka’s gambling industry, but could not apprehend them.  

RAB and some casino staff said that hardly any common individual who desires to enter a casino in Dhaka, can gain easy access. 

Casino visitors have to pass three levels of security checking and answer questions at the entrances, they said.

Once customers managed to establish their identity, they needed to show the amount of "smart" money they bring to spend at the casinos. 

In its drive, RAB detained two women among 144 people from the casino set up in the Fakirerpool Youngmen's Club of Motijheel. The two women who worked there, were released later.   

One of the women, who identified herself as Megha and a receptionist-cum-marketing officer of the casino, told the Dhaka Tribune that the casino had a workforce of 42 people. Of them, two Nepali citizens -- Bhupesh and Sanjay -- were the principal supervisors.

Megha, and the other woman who identified herself as Liza, said the casino operated every day of the week in two 12 hour shifts. 

Both of the women said Chinese nationals introduced the gambling boards while the Nepalese managed them. 

RAB Executive Magistrate Sarwar Alam said they found some foreign citizens engaged in operating the casinos. 

"We are investigating if they have work permits in the country or the kind of work permits they have," he said. 

Inside the casinos

This correspondent visited the casinos during the drives conducted by the RAB on Wednesday night. 

It is very difficult for common people to believe that casinos were being operated under the names of sports organizations. 

Colourful lights and the modern interior design in the casinos were eye-catching alongside their stringent security systems.

There were metal detectors and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the entrance of the Youngmen's Club. Entering there, this correspondent found a big hall room. Inside were colourful lights, six flash game gambling machines, and a casino board.

The cash room was on the left side of the hall room. There were iron boxes, money counting machines, bundles of rubber bands, luxury chairs, and computers. There was also a restaurant. 

Walking along the side of the restaurant, the reporter found two VIP casino rooms. The security of the VIP rooms was also different. There was alcohol, with cigarettes, sofas, chairs, and expensive sweepstakes.

RAB officials said the casino was operated by Khalid Mahmud Bhuiyan, the organizing secretary of Dhaka (South) Jubo League, who was arrested from his Gulshan residence.

Dhaka Wanderers' Club is next to the Youngmen's Club. The Dhaka Wanderers' Club casino seemed less lavish. There too was a hall room upon entering the casino. Various gambling options, including casinos, gutters, gambling shillings, and lotteries, were also seen there.

However, nobody was found inside the establishment. RAB sources said the individuals who were inside, fled through an escape door right before the raid.

Locals say the club is currently controlled by Mominul Haq Sayed,  Ward 9 commissioner of Dhaka South City Corporation. Swechchhasebak League President, Molla Mohammad Abu Kawser, runs this casino jointly with Sayed.

Kawser also maintains good relations with Ismail Chowdhury Samrat, president of Jubo League Dhaka (South).

RAB also conducted a raid on the Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra in Gulistan. The entrance of the club looks like a prayer house. There is a colourful casino gate and after entering, the correspondent found an eye-catching hall room with a gambling board. There were also two VIP rooms. 

On the left side of the hall room, there is a cash counter. A room inside the casino has some portraits of Awami League leaders, including Ismail Chowdhury Samrat.

On the right side, a room is furnished with three beds. There are some hutch lockers also. 

Enthusiastic onlookers

On Thursday morning, curious people gathered in front of Youngmen's Club and Wanderers Club. 

Small businessman Abdul Karim, who came to Motijheel for business, wanted to see the casino for himself. 

"I watched the news on television and came here to see," Karim said.

Like him, many others also crowded around where law enforcement stood guard. 

Although the casinos are sealed now, local residents doubt how long they will remain so.