The recent arrest of 46 people from the Indian capital in two separate cases of illegal casino operations at farmhouses, in Sainik Farms and Vasant Kunj, has given authorities an insight as to how these illegal casinos function in the capital.
The gambling scene in Delhi has evolved enormously, from seedy basements to a better organized and lucrative set-up consisting of table games for blackjack, roulette and rivoli besides chips from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 lakh for professional high rollers. Furthermore, the casino’s floor was managed by trained women from Goa. Members of the gambling circle received secret codes and wagers often ran in crores. The scenes of the raid exhibited opulence, with chips valued at a couple of crores, bottles of imported liquor, luxury cars and high end table games.
The investigation revealed that, the entry fee to these elusive clubs was a couple of lakhs and new entrants had to be to be introduced by two existing members. Subsequently, casino information was only shared through word of mouth and the VIP players were a closed group comprising of mostly property dealers, industrialists, businessmen and transporters from south Delhi .The operators avoided using Whatsapp or Facebook in order to ensure secrecy.
According to the authorities, once a person was done playing at the casino, he would provide an address and a contact number so that the organizers could inform him about the next session as this was not a daily affair and dates had to be announced through messengers. The games usually ran between Rs 5,000 and 5 lakhs.
While casino busts in Delhi are a rare occurrence, “satta syndicates”, a form of lottery, is a more common problem. These syndicates operate 24/7, with employees working eight-hour shifts. Most function at isolated spots across the city out of rented buildings, under the guise of call centers.
Gambling is illegal in the country and only certain categories such as lotteries and horse racing are permitted. The states of Daman and Diu, Goa and Sikkim alone have legal casinos, which generated approximate revenue of Rs 700 crores in 2015.
As other states like Maharashtra and Kerala consider legalizing the casino industry, it might be time for Delhi to follow in their footsteps as these illegal casinos will continue to crop up and the state government will continue to lose out from gambling taxes which could be used for the development of the state.