Online Gambling Grips Guwahati
Given that the Covid-19 pandemic has forced people to remain within the confines of their homes, the committed gamblers of the city have identified a novel way to pursue their passion – something that was previously popular in western countries.
Online gambling has gripped Guwahati in a big way and many youth and businessmen are gradually falling prey to the cyber game which is nothing less than a variety of cybercrime.
The crime branch of Mumbai Police had busted an online gambling racket in July last and had arrested three persons from the posh locality of suburban Bandra. During the investigation, it came to light that the accused were using PP Poker application through which they had created various online gambling clubs, which were probably spread across the country.
Similarly, according to some city gamblers, there are 5 to 6 online gambling apps where some Guwahatians are forming closed groups or clubs according to their playing abilities and preferences of Teen Patti, PP Poker, Poker Fishes, Just Club and so on.
A club member from Fancy Bazar, who played for a few days in one of the app-based gambling clubs, talking to G Plus under conditions of anonymity said, “It is quite impossible to trace the application owner or even the club owner because a member who has been introduced to any of the clubs can only be in contact with the person who has added him. The person is usually a close friend or a regular fellow gambler and the money transaction happens between only these two persons.”
He further added that it is a win-win situation only for the app owner and the club owner. He said that app owners are mostly based in other states and even outside the country whereas the club owners are based in the city itself.
Talking about the modus operandi, the source explained that when the app is downloaded, it looks like just a gaming app that can be played for free. But anyone desiring to play with real money can contact the app owner through the mail in the support mail address. The app owners have their own ways of verifying the applicant and after the verification, they form a club in the app for a particular player. That applicant becomes the club owner and purchases chips from the app owner for a certain amount.
Then the club owner adds members in the club and sells them these chips; one club has around 6 to 8 members.
For every board that the members play, around 3 to 5 percent of the total amount on the board goes to the club owner. The money transactions for new members happen on a daily basis and for old members, it happens weekly. Once the club owner exhausts his chips, he purchases them again from the app owner and the cycle continues. If a person wins Rs 1,000 from one board, he gets 3 to 5 percent lesser than the winning amount as the cut of the equal amount goes to the club owner.
There are clubs in some apps in Guwahati where the worth of one board is around Rs 20 lakhs to Rs 30 lakhs. The members play usually from 2 pm to 3 am of the next day during which around 500 to 1,000 boards are played on one club’s table.
“I left because I lost a huge amount and many people have gone bankrupt during the lockdown,” the source said adding that most of the club owners are former bookies of cricket matches.
The game is illegal because according to a police officer, no license for such games - if they are being played – has been taken under Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970.
A source in the city police crime branch said that no case against such activity has been filed yet but the police have received some inputs and they are further developing a case based on such inputs. The police said that it is cybercrime and they will certainly act against such crimes after all the evidence is accumulated.
Meanwhile, many youth and businessmen have lost or continue to lose huge amounts of money on a daily basis.