Thimphu police detained three men for alleged gambling, playing cards in Hongkong Market in Thimphu on May 23.

On the previous day, police arrested five men from Changzamtok for alleged gambling. On May 9, six people arrested from Dechencholing for the same. All 11 have been released on bail.

A tip-off led to the arrest of the 14, aged between 32 and 54. They were businessmen, civil servants and unemployed. Police seized the cards and cash as evidence.

Officer-in-command (OC) of Thimphu city said that the police have started receiving more complaints about people gambling.

“Often when we arrive at the site, we find that there is no gambling happening,” the OC said.

The police forwarded the cases involving 11 men and four women, aged 28 to 51, for alleged gambling in April and early this month to the dzongkhag court after investigation.

Gambling is graded as a petty misdemeanour in the Penal Code.

Section 393 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004 states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of gambling, if the person 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 outcome.

Section 395 of the Penal Code, however, states that an authorised lottery is not considered to be gambling.

“The prison term for a petty misdemeanour ranges from a month to one year,” the OC said. “If a person is arrested for the second time for the same offence, the court would fortify his or her right to bail and enhance their punishment.”

Dechen Tshomo