Saturday, 13 July, 2024, Reg No- 06
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Online gambling on the rise in Bangladesh

Published : Saturday, 15 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 611

The rapid proliferation of digital technology has revolutionized various aspects of life, including entertainment and recreation. Among these changes is the rise of online betting, which has become a prevalent activity among young people in this sub-continent. While it offers the allure of easy money and excitement, online betting poses significant risks and challenges. In Bangladesh, the situation is increasingly alarming, affecting the social fabric and law and order.

Online betting has seen exponential growth in Bangladesh, driven by easy access to the internet and smartphones. On 13 June, the Director General of the National Monitoring and Tracking Cell (NMTC), Major General Ziaul Ahsan, presented horrific figures of online betting and illicit activities. He also mentioned that more than 575 online gambling sites are active in Bangladesh. These betting platforms, often hosted overseas, provide various forms of gambling, from sports betting to casino games. Young people, drawn by the promise of quick profits, are the most active participants. It is also evident that people from all walks of life are now engaged in such illicit gambling.

Despite the illegal status of gambling in Bangladesh, the lack of stringent enforcement allows these online platforms to operate relatively freely. As a result, the youth, who are often more tech-savvy, are increasingly drawn into this risky behavior. Social media and other digital marketing strategies further exacerbate the problem by targeting young individuals with enticing advertisements and promotions. The NMTC chief also stressed the need for public figures to avoid getting involved in the promotion of online gambling.

The rise of online betting has led to numerous social issues in Bangladesh. One of the most significant concerns is the impact on young peoples mental health. The addictive nature of gambling can lead to severe psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, and compulsive behavior. Young bettors typically find themselves in a cycle of continuous betting, chasing losses, and accruing debt, which can have devastating consequences on their personal and family lives.

Moreover, online betting can lead to financial instability. Young individuals, often without a stable income, may resort to borrowing money or even engaging in illegal activities to fund their gambling habits. This financial strain not only affects the individuals but also places a burden on their families and the broader community. The dead end of this gambling habit is leading to suicides among individuals.

The widespread nature of online betting also poses significant challenges to law and order in Bangladesh. Illegal betting rings and unregulated online platforms frequently lead to an increase in criminal activities. There have been instances of match-fixing, money laundering, and other illicit activities associated with online gambling.

Law enforcement agencies face considerable challenges in tracking and regulating these activities due to the anonymity and global nature of the internet. The involvement of international betting syndicates further complicates enforcement efforts. Additionally, the lack of clear legal frameworks and resources to tackle cybercrime effectively leaves a significant gap in controlling the menace of online betting.

In response to growing concerns, the NMTC in Bangladesh has taken commendable steps to curb the spread of online betting. The NMTC has been instrumental in monitoring internet traffic and identifying illegal betting platforms. By collaborating with internet service providers and financial institutions, they could manage to block websites and freeze suspicious transactions related to online betting.

Furthermore, the NMTC chief has stressed the importance of launching awareness campaigns to educate the public, especially young people, about the risks and consequences of online gambling. These initiatives aim to create a more informed and cautious population, less likely to fall prey to the lure of online betting. Additionally, continuous efforts by joint forces, including law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, NMTC, and public administration, could make a noteworthy contribution to curbing this menace.

Addressing the issue of online betting requires a multi-faceted approach. The government needs to update and enforce stricter laws against online gambling. This includes closing legal loopholes that allow these platforms to operate and increasing penalties for those involved in illegal betting. Law enforcement agencies should be equipped with advanced tools and training to track and shut down online betting platforms. International cooperation is also essential to combat cross-border gambling syndicates.

Moreover, continuous efforts to educate the public about the dangers of online betting are crucial. Schools, universities, and community centers can play a vital role in these educational campaigns. Establishing support systems, such as counseling services and helplines, can help those struggling with gambling addiction. Providing resources for recovery can mitigate the social and psychological impacts of online betting.

In Bangladesh, gambling is a crime, and besides government action, which is crucial, every family also has a significant role to play. Families need to be vigilant and proactive in looking after their members, ensuring that no one is getting involved in gambling activities. It would not be wise to point fingers at the government alone; societal issues of this magnitude demand a collective effort. By fostering a culture of responsibility and awareness within households and communities, the fight against gambling can be more robust and effective. Families, educational institutions, and community organizations must work hand in hand with government agencies to eradicate the menace of gambling.

Online betting poses a significant threat to the all walks of people, especially the young generation in Bangladesh. It affects mental health, financial stability, and social harmony. The commendable efforts by organizations like the NMTC are a step in the right direction, but more comprehensive measures are needed. By implementing stronger legislation, enhancing enforcement, raising public awareness, and providing support to addicts, Bangladesh can mitigate the adverse effects of online betting and protect its future generation from this digital menace. The collective effort of the government, law enforcement, educational institutions, and the community is essential to address this pressing issue effectively.

The writer is a political and defense analyst

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