It is that time of the year when tradition and law will play hide and seek. Thousands of people across the city will bet crores of rupees while playing cards and gamble on the pretext of ‘Diwali tradition’ while the police will look to spoil their party.
The police said they will be on the lookout for clubs and commercial establishments where money is exchanged while playing cards. They insist they will not target households where people play cards without involving money, as part of Diwali tradition.
While fresh powder-coated packs are making their way to several households and clubs across the city, bundles of notes are being stacked to be gambled on Diwali nights. Affluent business families are known to play cards in closed groups of 10-30 people during the festival. Crores of rupees are won and lost during these games. Hard cash, ornaments, cars and others valuables are at stake. The minimum stakes are worth Rs500-Rs1,000 whereas the upper limit can start from as high as Rs5 lakh.
Teen patti and rammy are mostly played during Diwali, but other games like poker, blackjack, casino war and baccarat are fast becoming popular, especially with the younger generation. Even the online game of teen patti is a rage.
Those from affluent families, gangsters and even bar girls are known to indulge heavily in card games during the festival of lights. “Bar girls are known to splash huge amounts of money. They even put at stake their ornaments and valuables. Jewellers bet on gold biscuits too,” said a police officer.
Those who are in the habit of playing cards say there is nothing wrong with it. “Playing cards and gambling is officially allowed during Diwali. All family members take part... it is not considered wrong or illegal,” said a Prabhadevi-based businessman. A Malad-based builder agrees.
“However, fearing police action, most of these card-playing sessions have now shifted to private households, social clubs or farmhouses and resorts on the outskirts of the city,” he said.
The police told dna that they won’t target families during the festival. “It is difficult to get hold of people who play cards or do gambling at home with only family members. However, we will certainly keep a tab on social clubs and gambling dens during Diwali and will carry out a drive against them,” said senior police inspector Shirish Sawant, who is in-charge of the social service branch of the Mumbai crime branch.
Any game where movable or immovable property is transacted is considered to be an act of gambling and is punishable under the Gambling Act. Any game where luck plays a more important role than the skill of the person involved and where exchange of money takes place qualifies as an act of gambling.