Offenders found shifting dens between various locations to avoid police
Surprise raids and huge number of arrests notwithstanding, gambling addiction is sweeping through the rural parts of Ernakulam.
Even as the number of gambling cases reported by the police shows a marginal decline with each passing year, officials maintain that dens operating clandestinely have seen a rise in the number of gamblers playing cards and placing bets.
While the police keep on swooping down on gambling rackets on a regular basis, habitual gamblers continue to indulge in the illegal act by shifting their dens between various locations, say the police.
The games, organised on the pretext of parties or late-night gatherings, are being played with such high stakes that the total amount transacted over the card games often runs into several lakhs of rupees. Although single-digit lottery is considered non-existent in the region, ‘Pannimalathu’, an indigenous version of poker, is the most commonly played game in these gambling dens.
These rackets largely operate from rented houses in isolated locations, apartments, or even private clubs.
According to official estimates, as many as 224 cases under the Gaming Act were reported from the rural district in 2017, as against 248 in 2016 and 309 in 2015. On the other hand, gambling cases reported from the Kochi city area during the same period stood much less at 49 in 2017, 41 in 2016, and 48 in 2015.
According to the Ernakulam Rural police, almost all the cases are the result of raids on private premises on receiving information. “Though the number of cases drops marginally with each passing year, the volume of money involved and the participation of people have only gone up during the period. Majority of those addicted to gambling belong to the upper middle class,” pointed out a senior officer with the Ernakulam Rural police.
Police officials, meanwhile, maintain that data on gambling in the State does not reflect the true figure as it takes the police lots of resources to follow up on the cases.
“In some cases, cops even avoid registering cases unless they involve big money,” they say.
The officials attribute the high incidence of gambling in the rural region primarily to the existence of safe heavens. “In rural areas, one has the luxury of camping in isolated locations for a long period without drawing local attention which is never an easy task as far as the city is concerned,” they say.
Source: European Gaming News