Gambling has over the years become the most sought-after activity on Diwali night. It has become an excuse to get together, make merry and also make some money.
Mumbaikars are all geared up to try their luck this Diwali. It’s a combination of luck, alcohol, money and festive spirit that makes taash parties a big hit among the young and old alike.
Nikhil Sagar, a businessman, a regular at poker parties on Diwali, attributes the popularity of card games to the belief that gambling will invoke goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. And, those who gamble will prosper in the coming year.
Nikhil hosts parties or goes to his friend’s place on Diwali every year. “It starts with lower stakes but goes up as the excitement peaks. We’ve had instances where we had Rs2lakh to give out,” he said.
Teen Patti, poker and black jack are some of the popular games. “For me, it’s more than money. The highest we go in terms of stakes is Rs15,000. If it gets higher, things turn ugly. So we restrict the stakes,” said Anubhav K Srivastava, a television actor.
Anubhav is spoilt for choice this year when it comes to card parties. “A lot of my friends are hosting parties and I’m excited.”
Usually, the party starts at 10pm after the puja and goes on till 6 in the morning. For some, gambling is a ritual throughout the Diwali week.
Vicky Oberoi, a marketing executive, has been gambling since childhood. “For us, it’s a family tradition. We do it through the week and around 25 people in the family who get together and play.” Vicky will play with his family in his uncle’s hotel in Juhu on Diwali like every year.
For many, gambling means business and the stakes are at an all-time high on Diwali. Lakhs are thrown around and dealt with. A businessman, on condition of anonymity, said: “Diwali is a time when people test their luck. I play with friends and we end up earning or losing money in lakhs, gadgets, gizmos and even gold.”