Games people play

City police raid 10 centres in a crackdown on secret dens of gambling where money is dropped on a regular basis by both, the daily wage earner and the super rich, whose addiction to cards are ruining a number of families
Games people play
Fact File

Chennai

The social menace of gambling, where even daily wage workers gamble with their day’s wage, hoping to strike it rich, is now being thwarted strongly by the Chennai City Police. The top brass, including the City Commissioner of Police and the Additional Commissioner Intelligence jointly decided to crack down on these centres, which according to sources have been functioning with the full blessings of local police officials lower down the hierarchy. 
As a senior officer puts it, such gambling centres have been functioning across the city for years, but no attempts were made to conduct raids on them. “It all depends on the officers who are at the top. Gambling centres have been active in Chennai from time immemorial,” the official added. Over the last few weeks, the city police have busted more than 10 such centres functioning in different parts of the city and have seized several lakhs of rupees. 
The persons arrested in this case are booked under the Section 45 and 46 of City Police Act (The offence of keeping or using a room as a common gaming house can be made out only if there is sufficient proof of presence of element of profit). The arrested persons easily come out on bail by paying a meagre fine of Rs 200. 
Subsequent offences attract a higher fine and the possibility of imprisonment. Police sources, however, said that the accused get away with paying the fine and imprisonment is rarely awarded. According to insiders, the crackdown on gambling is due to the fact that several families are deeply affected because of the financial loss caused by those who are addicted to gambling. 
“Like any other gambling sport, playing rummy also ruins families. The participants keep putting all their money into the card game, hoping to get back what they had lost in the previous games and end up losing everything they have,” a senior police official said. Like horse racing, playing cards also have ruined many such families, he added. Not just daily wage labourers but even wealthy individuals have become paupers after getting addicted to gambling, police say. 
“Such centres are run in lodges, houses and even in office spaces. They usually pay rummy and each one has to put up anything between Rs.500 to Rs.5,000 per game. Each group will have a minimum of 6 players,” the official said. The owner of the gambling den takes a commission of 10 percent or more from each game for providing the facilities. Police sources said there are clubs that conduct gaming from morning to night, with a regular stream of gamblers. Sources said these ‘facilitators’ earn several thousands to several lakh rupees a day and keep the local police in good spirits to avoid raids. Sources said all the local police stations knew where such centres operate in their jurisdiction but do not bother to check on them due to the kickbacks. 
“Many such centres have political backing as well, because of the involvement of big money. Even now the raids are being conducted at smaller centres and the centres where the rich gamble still remain out of police radar,” another official said.

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