Dhaka High Court recently (Monday, February 10th) declared all forms of gambling illegal in Bangladesh. The court also observed that Public Gambling Act, 1867 should be updated and punishment for gambling should be increased.
The order was passed by a bench comprising Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md Mahmudul Hasan Talukdar. The order followed hearing of a writ petition filed by two Supreme Court lawyers, Samiul Huq and Rokonuddin Md Faruk.
The High Court asked law enforcement agencies to immediately seize any equipment used for gambling and take actions against gamblers and organizers of gambling. The games banned in the ambit of this order include indoor games such as housie, dice, flash, one-ten, and chorchori, as playing these games largely involves luck rather than skills.
Under the Public Gambling Act, 1857, the maximum punishment is three months jail and a fine of Tk200. The law is applicable outside metropolitan areas, but it wasn’t enforced in Dhaka city, so far.
In its observation, the High Court applauded the anti-gambling steps taken by the Bangladesh government. “The main purpose of the government’s drive against casinos is to discourage gambling,” observed the High Court.
In the year 2016, a writ petition was filed in the High Court by two Supreme Court lawyers, to stop gambling at 13 clubs in Dhaka and four in other districts of Bangladesh.
The 13 upscale clubs accused of organising gambling for their members are Dhaka Club, Uttara Club, Gulshan Club, Dhanmondi Club, Banani Club, Officers’ Club, Dhaka Ladies’ Club, Cadet College Club, Chittagong Club, Chittagong Seniors’ Club, Narayanaganj Club, Sylhet Club, and Khulna Club.
Following the petition, the High Court on December 4, 2016, issued a rule, asking the concerned authorities to explain why directives should not be given to take action to stop unlawful gambling. It also ordered banning of card and dice games and housie for money at the clubs. Dhaka Club later secured a freeze on the interim order that forbade gambling at clubs, by filing a pea at the Appellate Division.
On January 23rd this year, the High Court concluded a hearing in this matter and finally gave the order on Monday, February 10th.