THE DICE stopped rolling on Sunday at an illegal casino concealed inside a south Delhi farmhouse where influential businessmen gathered to play high-stakes games. Authorities busted the operation and arrested 36 people during a pre-Diwali raid at J-255 in Sainik Farms based on a tip.
According to a senior police officer, the casino parties held at the address were arranged exclusively for businessmen from the national capital region.
Crores of rupees were wagered each day and a player had to spend a minimum of Rs 5 lakh for entry and each chip was worth Rs 1 lakh. "This party was arranged ahead of Diwali and many more such parties were planned. It had a closed group of players and no outsider was invited. Only people with references could play the game," the officer said.
Special casino tables and imported alcohol were organised and the venue was guarded inside and out with CCTV cameras while ensuring high-quality service and security. Gambling card games are often played in both villages and cities around Diwali, as it is generally considered auspicious to gamble during the festival.
"No bouncers were deployed at the venue. Trained staffers were brought in to organise the games. They were eyeing to make several crores in one night," said the officer. The raiding party found around two dozen people gambling on five tables. The police seized 11 luxury vehicles, 23 bottles of liquor and chips worth Rs 1.36 crore as well as 250 packs of playing cards. Players, table attendants and proprietors are among those arrested. Two separate cases under the Delhi Gambling Act and Delhi Excise Act were registered at the Neb Sarai police station.
However, the main accused and owner of the premises, Harender Kaushik, and Kunal Chandra, one of the proprietors and partners of the casino, are yet to be caught. Police officers said they would take steps to seal the property under provisions of the Delhi Gambling Act. Sources added that the gang had planned similar parties in other parts of the city. All the members were contacted by the organiser through WhatsApp calls.
Most forms of gambling are illegal in India, as the Public Gambling Act of 1867 clearly states that the running or visiting a public gaming house is punishable by modest fines or prison terms. The states of Goa and Sikkim, however, allow casinos on their territories. Most gambling in the country, from penny-stake games at street corners and card parties in affluent homes to wagers on cricket and underground numbers games, is illicit and goes untaxed.
During interrogation, the arrested people told the police that they had formed a WhatsApp group of 20 people who communicated about casino gambling locations.
"Members never added any known person to the group over fears of getting caught. They decided the location and other information of the gambling parties on the WhatsApp group," said an officer.
Delhi police said that sleuths from the intelligence department have been instructed to collect information about places where gambling is organised during Diwali. The officers incharge of the police stations have also been instructed to check gambling in their respective areas.
"We are keeping tab on movement and sale of smuggled liquor from neighbouring states and on people who provide space for gambling. All police stations have already been instructed over the issues," said a senior police officer.