Just months after the government began a crackdown on illegal casinos across Bangladesh, the High Court declared that gambling is now illegal at 13 clubs across the country. The order issued on February 10 by Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md Mahmud Hassan Talukder makes it illegal for gambling operations in the five districts that currently host clubs offering this activity.
The clubs that will now be restricted from providing gambling include Dhaka Club, Uttara Club, Gulshan Club, Dhanmondi Club, Banani Club, Officers’ Club, Dhaka Ladies’ Club, Cadet College Club, Chittagong Club, Chittagong Seniors’ Club, Narayanganj Club, Sylhet Club, and Khulna Club. They have been ordered to cease operations and law enforcement agencies have been authorized to seize gambling equipment from any location where it is discovered.
This action began in 2016 when two Supreme Court lawyers filed a petition asking the court to stop gambling in each of these 13 social clubs. The petition was based upon three pieces of legislation, the DMP Ordinance 1976, Chittagong Metropolitan Police Ordinance 1978 and Public Gambling Act 1867, which declared any type of gambling activity in the country was illegal.
These clubs had allowed members to be able to participate in gambling and had even posted information on their websites, a clear violation of the three ordinances.
The petition was first heard at the beginning of December 2016, and at that time the High Court issued an order that stopped all card and dice games and housie (a form of lottery) in which money was involved. The court wondered why law enforcement officials were not taking appropriate action against these businesses.
Dhaka Club fought the order, filing an appeal at the Appellate Division and were able to secure a temporary injunction against the higher court’s order. The High Court agreed, determining that the order should stay in effect until the final disposition was heard.
That occurred on January 23, when a hearing on the matter was concluded. The verdict was not announced until Monday.
The government had already been cracking down on these establishments. In September, they began a series of raids that occurred over the next two months. During that time, 50 different businesses were raided and over 300 people were arrested for their involvement in illegal gambling activity. This included several members of the Awami League as well as organizations associated with them. Local business and city officials were also apprehended in the raids.