Make the gambling ban stick

If there is one notable social ill in the country, it is gambling.  Recognising this, it was banned a long time ago, long before some of the victims of, what the former (late) Home Minister Tamshi Jagar described as, an “extortion business,” were even born.

They realised that it was bad and that there were no winners.  The issue reached the National Assembly and the activity was banned.  That was in 1977.

Today, 38 years later, we are still dealing with the problem.  Nothing much has changed, except the amounts at stake and duration of the sessions.  When stakes are bigger, so are repercussions.

Gambling could have started as a harmless social event, then referred to as “time pass.”  That might have been the case initially.  But as it involves money and is an easy way to make some, it is addictive, worse than substance abuse.  What it is leaving behind are broken families and huge debts.  These problems were foreseen a long time ago, therefore the ban.

Talk about gambling today and we hear not stories of big winners but of losers, people absconding to escape debt repayment, of selling family heirlooms and life savings as they gamble their lives away.  The biggest losers are the children.  Then there are people missing work because of long hours, sometimes an entire weekend, sitting at gambling tables.  Productivity is hurt and so is service delivery.  It gets worse if heads of departments or organisations are engaged.

Between now and the first ban, several attempts had been made to enforce the ban, but in vain.  Given the consequences, this is one ban that should have been enforced a long time ago.  It has not.  And it has not because hardcore gambling was more common among the rich and the educated, those with money and authority.  That’s why it is not surprising to see people in authority falling victim to this addiction.

It is surprising that raids fail, because everybody seems to know who is gambling, when and where.  The courts know that the monetary cases that come to them are related to gambling.  If we are serious about this cancer, there are many ways to root it out.  The simplest is to be strict with enforcing the law.

We have stricter rules and have punished people for, say, bringing in a few more packets of tobacco than the law prescribed.  Given the consequences left behind, gambling must be strictly banned and monitored.  It will save families and lives.

3 replies
  1. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    Dear IRFAN ; as I appreciate so much your comments I iwould like to have your opinion about DIGITAL PRIVACY ISSUES AND CHALLENGES IN BHUTAN .
    The moderator has not taking account of my comment about that article .

    If it is possible , could you create a special mail address ( it is easy with gmail ) to preserve your anonimity so that I can expose some radical opinions before quoting them in kuensel ; the file opinion do not run at every time I try to use it

    And more , sometimes my current comments are not registered for technical problem inside kuensel data system . Thanks ; you have plenty time for your answer

  2. irfan
    irfan says:

    That’s some critical load of debt burden running into millions that too from amateur gambling involving probably the middle to upper band of working class. Playing with factors of luck and then feeling lucky with rewards can be addictive; but gambling doesn’t involve equitable risk. To risk shouldn’t be only for luck. Calculations and management of risk can be good fun, but there must be some theoretical base to define the risk. Imaginary or invisible risk in form of just lucky assumptions may be suicidal. Gambling like risk, at the professional level, can be even business; but it gets critical when risk is both business and market. If gambling as an addiction is a psychological issue, so is greed as only quantitative risk. But for laws in place to wipe out the cancer of gambling; there must be a rethink on other laws governing properties, finances, banking, taxes, etc. The moment we are talking growth in multiple folds in real quick time, it involves an ‘Invisible Risk Zone’ well defined by numbers which are more of imaginary projections like mirages.

    [Dear MIGNIEN, allow me to thank you for your appreciations. But even your comments have been very resourceful. Good thing about this online edition is that readers can introduce their insights into the news and posts bringing new dimensions to the overall reading experience. And it only cost us a bit of our time.]

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