Kathmandu, November 16
On October 27, police raided a house in Maharajgunj and arrested 25 high-profile and affluent gamblers with Rs 26.7 million, the single-biggest seizure of cash from a gambling den in the country.
In addition to legal action on gambling charge as per the new penal code, they are under the scanner of the Department of Money Laundering Investigation to probe legitimacy of their assets.
Police have been quite active against gamblers in the last three fiscals. According to statistics released by Nepal Police, 956 gambling parlours were dismantled and 2,824 persons arrested across the country in the past three fiscals. Nearly half of them were from Kathmandu valley.
Police raided 206 gambling dens in fiscal 2016-17, 359 in 2017-18 and 391 in 2018-19. It shows gradual rise in police crackdown on gamblers. Gambling is punishable by jail term not exceeding three months and fine not exceeding 30,000, for the first time offender. As many as 465 gamblers, including three women, were arrested from 43 places of the valley and other parts of the country from October 20- 30. Retired and incumbent government employees, businesspersons and contractors top the list of gamblers.
Senior Superintendent of Police Umesh Raj Joshi, assistant spokesperson for Nepal Police, attributed ‘proactive measures of the law enforcement agency’ to increased number of gamblers stepping into the legal traps.
“We usually raid gambling dens based on information served by civil society members and family sources of the gamblers. The gamblers may be subject to legal action not only under the Civil and Criminal Code Act-2017, but also in accordance with the Asset (Money) Laundering Prevention Act-2008, as deemed necessary,” he warned.
Community-Police Partnership Programme has also encouraged citizens to tip the cops about illegal gambling across the country. Deputy Superintendent of Police Umesh Lamsal, in-charge of Maharajgun-based Metropolitan Police Circle, said the cops had intensified their vigil against the social malpractices such as gambling.
After police intensified vigilance on casinos to curb entry of Nepali gamblers there, the number of people visiting casinos has decreased in Kathmandu. The existing law bars Nepali citizens from entering casinos for gambling.
However, casino frequenters have now switched to gambling dens and converted hotels, restaurants, eateries, auto workshops, pubs, bars and private offices and houses for gambling. All metropolitan police ranges, circles and sectors have formed anti-gambling squads in their concerned areas to swing into action whenever they receive a tip-off.
According to police, gambling and crime are interlinked. Crimes are likely to occur at gambling venues over betting and money lending. It is also one of the reasons of domestic violence. Though gambling is a usual happening, it becomes all-pervasive during the festivals.
A version of this article appears in print on November 17, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.