It is good that the police had swiftly moved into action against the organizers of Tambola at Iboyaima Sanglen following an IFP complaint in public interest. The said action has been followed up with an open warning that both organizers and participants would be booked under the Public Gambling Act, 1867 by the Imphal East police. Indeed, the housie games have been going on for the last few months at the Sanglen on almost daily basis. Earlier, the venue in demand was Gandhi Memorial Hall right in the heart of the city. Although these bumper housie draws are organized in the names of different organizations, the main actors remained more or less the same. These are tell-tale signs of the presence of a gambling syndicate in Imphal. We earnestly feel, an investigation must immediately be launched to book the main culprits behind the series of bumper draws and also find out the complicity of officials both in the police and the district administration. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 prohibits running or being in charge of a public gaming house. The penalty for breaking this law is a fine of 200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months. Additionally, this Act prohibits visiting gambling houses. A fine of Rs 100 or imprisonment of up to one month is the penalty. The Information Technology Act 2000 regulates cyber activities in India and prohibits publication or transmission of information that can corrupt people. This includes online gambling and the punishment for such activities is much more serious than for offline gambling operations – the fine is Rs 100,000 or imprisonment up to 5 years.
Meanwhile, we should not remain mere spectators to state action. The civil society organizations should come out openly against such illegal activities. The huge number of people flocking at these tambola games reflect a negative social behavior. The lure of easy money and the tendency to take shortcuts to happiness has indeed become a matter of concern in our society. The situation had become so ripe for professional cheats to operate. Look at the number of persons duped in the name of Multi Level Marketing (MLM) networks and the persons in the top bracket of the networks disappearing with fortunes worth crores of rupees. So is the case of private banks of unknown origin like Satna Syndicate Bank decamping with deposits from loan aspirants. Take the case of fake employment agencies who are out to cheat gullible people. The high unemployment rate is a rich ground for these agencies to operate. They promise lucrative jobs and take huge deposits from the unemployed youths. When their game is exposed they just switch agency names and locations. These are but some instances of the cheats and the duped. What is more worrying is the undercurrent prevalent in social behavior. This behavior is specially dangerous in the case of teenagers. Nowadays, teenagers are willing to take dangerous shortcuts to make easy money. They can go to any lengths to finance their lifestyle – girlfriends, latest mobile phones, parties etc. This is an alarming scenario which needs to be checked. It has to be drilled into the minds of our youth that man does not attain pleasure without pain, happiness without sadness, and success without hard work. It is obvious that each of us, no matter how old or young he is, has experienced all these feelings. No one succeeds in school without exerting lots of efforts. Whoever wants to secure his sustenance would face and encounter lots of hardships. In the case of gambling, a simple after-thought would be updating the archaic Public Gambling Act, 1867 taking into account newer forms of gambling. We must also understand that the gambling habit has been with humanity since times immemorial and it is something which you cannot wish away. The best option remains in regulation.