Saturday, January 25, 2020 | ePaper

Illegal casinos were not unknown

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SEALING of two illegal casinos by the Rapid Action Battalion in the sports hub of Motijheel in the capital, popularly known as Club Para (club zone), on Wednesday has become the most talked-about issue in the country's sporting arena.  The elite force RAB raided Fakirerpool Youngmen's Club and Dhaka Wanderers to uncover the casinos, prompting other clubs including Mohammedan Sporting Club, Victoria Sporting Club, Arambagh Krira Sangha and Dilkusha Sporting Club to halt their similar operations immediately.
Along promoting sporting facilities, over the years the clubs moved away from their regular role and got involved in gambling business on the pretext of raising fund before renting out their spaces to run illegal casinos that were eventually exposed by a RAB raid on Wednesday night. Among the clubs housed in the zone, only Mohammedan currently take part in the top-flight Dhaka Premier League cricket while it (Mohammedan) and Arambagh KS play in the Bangladesh Premier League football.
 Fakirerpool Youngmen's Club, which is now in the eyes of a storm, got an opportunity to play in Bangladesh Premier League football after they became champion in Bangladesh Championship League in 2016. But the club spurned the opportunity citing lack of fund, though it ran an illegal casino on its premises.
Club organisers said that they had to allow casinos on their premises under pressure from politicians, not out of greed, though they admitted that the gambling operations (casinos) benefitted them financially. Mohammedan Sporting Club claimed that they only rented out their facility for a casino but had no involvement in running the business. He said they were compelled to leave the space for politicians. However, the sporting clubs are beneficiary of the casinos and gambling. Victoria Sporting Club was the first club to have allegedly first allowed a casino inside its facility at a time when it was losing its sporting glory.
That the casinos were running illegally is true. But it is as part of illegality and corruption in every other area, the people connected with casino business have been found to be government supporters enjoying political protection. The decision to go against them was also decided politically under pressure. The godfathers are not caught and punished.

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