…𝒐𝒏𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒆 𝒈𝒂𝒎𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒐𝒏𝒍𝒚 𝒃𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒍𝒂𝒘 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒂𝒍𝒔𝒐 𝒊𝒎𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒆𝒔 𝒔𝒊𝒈𝒏𝒊𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒇𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒊𝒂𝒍 𝒃𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒆𝒏𝒔 𝒐𝒏 𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒅𝒖𝒂𝒍𝒔, 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒖𝒍𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏 𝒔𝒐𝒄𝒊𝒂𝒍 𝒊𝒔𝒔𝒖𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒑𝒐𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒇𝒂𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒂𝒍 𝒃𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒌𝒅𝒐𝒘𝒏𝒔.
Department of Law and Order (DLO), operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs has conveyed profound apprehension regarding the burgeoning populace engaged in online gambling ventures. This grave concern has prompted the department to issue a resounding reminder that gambling, in all its forms, including its insidious online manifestations, stands unequivocally prohibited as dictated by the venerable Penal Code of Bhutan, enacted in the year 2004.
As per the Penal Code of Bhutan, 2004, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of gambling, if the defendant stakes or wagers something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the defendant’s control or influence upon an agreement or understanding that the defendant will receive something of value in the event of a certain.”
In no uncertain terms, the department has underscored that those found culpable in advocating or actively participating in the act of online gambling shall be subjected to the stringent and rigorous legal repercussions. The gravity of the situation demands immediate attention.
The Department of Law and Order, aims to safeguard and protect its citizenry from the insidious grip of this pernicious practice. As the nation collectively grapples with this alarming trend, citizens are urged to remain vigilant and report any instances of online gambling activities to the authorities promptly. The Department of Law and Order’s unequivocal declaration serves as a clarion call to action, sounding the alarm on the perilous rise of online gambling.
The rise of online gambling has presented a challenge for law enforcement agencies worldwide, and Bhutan is no exception. The convenience and anonymity offered by digital platforms have led to a surge in individuals engaging in this illegal activity. The Department of Law and Order recognizes the need for immediate action to curb this growing problem and safeguard the interests of the citizens.
A concern has emerged as the department draws attention to the growth of online gambling activities. From innovative online games like Sikkim Teer and Shillong Teer, rooted in the concept of arrows, to dice games organized through social media groups, the proliferation of virtual gambling has become increasingly alarming. Individuals are wagering on popular online games such as casinos, ludo, lotteries, poker, and a plethora of other online gambling games. The department emphasizes the urgent need to address this perilous trend.
Karma Dorji, Officiating Director General of Department of Law and Order, Ministry of Home affairs said, “Online gambling is a concern, firstly its illegal by law and secondly it puts individuals under serious financial burden causing social problems, family breakups and leads to addiction. The DLO has been creating awareness through public notification highlighting on social issues and legal ramification. We are discussing on strengthening the existing law which is necessary to deter people from engaging in gambling.”
The Officiating Director General expressed his concerns, stating, “Online gambling is a significant concern. Firstly, it is illegal according to the law, and secondly, it imposes a heavy financial burden on individuals, leading to social problems, family breakups, and addiction. The Department of Law and Order has been diligently raising awareness through public notifications, shedding light on the social issues and legal consequences involved. We are currently engaged in discussions to strengthen the existing laws, which are imperative to deter people from participating in gambling activities.”
According to the Department of Law and Order, to date, there have been no reported instances necessitating state assistance for gambling addiction.
There is no mechanism and expertise within the DLO and the only way to monitor online gambling is to go online and watch. “While DLO keep an eye on such activities, the DLO has no enforcement role per say. Technically it may be difficult to restrict such online activities. As a responsible citizen, abiding by the law of the nation is necessary.” he added.
“No dedicated research or studies to understand the extent of online gambling in the country and its associated risks has been done till date, ” Karma added.
Based on the Gambling Statistics spanning from 2020 to May 18, 2023, a total of 43 gambling cases have been reported between 2021 and 2023. Specifically, there were 10 cases in 2021, 19 cases in 2022, and 6 cases in 2023. These figures reflect the overall statistics of gambling, as no specific data is currently available regarding online gambling.
Colonel Passang Dorji, Deputy Chief of Police said, “These are the cases that are reported to the police and resulted in arrests. However, there are numerous cases that go unreported to the police”.
Colonel Passang Dorji also added, “There are numerous cases we come across that are not reported to the police. Additionally, people hear and witness instances of gambling, but it becomes difficult to provide concrete evidence. Consequently, the question arises: what can the police do? The police must gather evidence and make on-the-spot arrests to enable legal charges.”
“There is a misconception among the public that there is rampant gambling, yet the police are not taking any action. We diligently investigate as soon as a complaint is received, but lack the necessary proof to establish guilt. The same predicament applies to online gambling, leaving individuals wondering what actions can be taken” he added.
The Police make concerted efforts to raise public awareness through various channels such as social media, mainstream media, and by taking advantage of opportunities during public gatherings to discuss crime-related topics.
Colonel Passang expressed his commitment, stating, “Whenever I become aware of any gathering, I actively seek opportunities to participate and educate individuals on matters pertaining to crime, youth issues, and more. We utilize every available platform and gathering to ensure widespread awareness among the public.”
The Penal Code categorizes gambling as a petty misdemeanor, carrying a minimum sentence ranging from one month to one year.