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Delhi, India police have once again raided a temporary casino. In the one pictured, authorities in 2016 seized gambling equipment and arrested 36 suspects. (Image: Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times)
During a search of the property, police seized many rupees worth about $15,000, some 6,000 plastic gambling tokens, and five poker tables, India Today said. Police also seized 65 mobile phones, the Hindustan Times reported.
Those arrested include financial traders, industrialists, jewelers, and business executives, authorities told the media. They were recruited by organizers through WhatsApp — and some participants even placed bets through the app, according to India Today.
The app group was private. Additional members were only added if they were recommended to organizers.
The locations of the temporary gambling dens kept changing, but recently moved to the unnamed hotel, police said. Until the arrests, organizers were expecting to hold gambling in six different sites.
In the case of Ghitorni, organizers told participants the approximate location of the gaming party the day before it started, the report said. To maintain secrecy, participants were only given an address near the gambling den, and once there, someone would direct them to the specific gaming site, according to the Times.
Authorities also seized illegal imported liquor and hookah that were found at the hotel, the report said.
India Today said that Sajid Khan, who was identified as a gym owner, rented the hotel’s basement. Two of his friends organized the gambling activity, police said.
Police added they will also take unspecified “action” against the hotel, the Times reported.
Gaming Took Place Before Diwali Festival
The gaming event took place before Diwali, a religious multi-day festival of lights. It kicks off on Sunday and many residents choose to gamble with cards during the holiday.
In 2017, a similar raid took place in Delhi. Back then, a 45-year-old former model was one of 25 persons arrested for allegedly operating an underground illegal gambling house.
During the search, police found 45 packets of playing cards, 2,700 gambling chips, a poker table, bingo game, over two dozen cellphones, a money counting machine, and several bottles of liquor. Police also seized many rupees, totaling about $11,736.
Gambling generally is illegal in India. Those convicted face fines or incarceration.
Move to More Legal Gambling Possible
Unlike Delhi, the Goa and Sikkim regions allow limited gambling. Airline passengers may be able to soon gamble in North Goa. The popular tourist destination may feature gaming venues at a 232-acre planned commercial zone adjoining the forthcoming Mopa International Airport.
The airport has been touted as a site where airline passengers could gamble before and after flights. In fact, some or all of the six floating casinos now on the Mandovi River in Panaji — the state’s capital city — could be relocated to the airport complex.
Having Goa’s casinos move to a land-based location could mean a major jump in gaming revenue. Last year, Union Gaming Securities, a Las Vegas-investment advisory firm, predicted yearly gross gaming revenues could top $1 billion if the casinos are moved to dry land.
In India, legislators have considered legalizing gambling. Now, sports betting and other types of wagering are basically against the national law.
In 2017, the Indian gambling market, both legal and illegal, was estimated at $60 billion annually. The government would like more control over that money.
Regulation would be the easiest way to eliminate illegal operations. It would also raise more revenue for the government.