Gambling on digital platforms has become rampant across the country amid the emergence of mobile financial services (MFS) as an easy and primary tool to facilitate illicit transactions.
Law enforcement agencies have arrested many MFS agents and distribution house officials in recent years for acting as online gambling agents and facilitating illegal transactions.
Spokesperson of Bangladesh Bank said it was becoming more and more difficult to tackle online gambling transactions since both personal and merchant accounts of MFS had been used for such transactions.
Law enforcement agencies’ investigators said that lapses in supervision from the management of MFS companies coupled with the abundance and easy access to online gambling websites and apps have worsened the situation.
Officials estimate that thousands of taka have been laundered abroad through online betting, putting the country’s economy in further trouble.
One CID officer reportedly explained that top MFS firms’ accounts are the primary tool for online gambling transactions.
Online gambling website links or apps contain one or more MFS agents’ account contacts.
Many MFS agents either work as gambling agents or use their account contacts for transactions and ultimately send the money to the designated gambling agents.
The money is then converted into cryptocurrencies through a virtual platform like the Binance cryptocurrency exchange and laundered abroad.
CID has been investigating around 15 cases of online gambling and has arrested over 100 people for their involvement as gambling agents.
Most of the people arrested are working both as MFS and gambling platform agents.
The CID had earlier identified some 5,000 MFS agents involved in illegal transactions such as hundi trading and online gambling, which ultimately led to a huge amount of money laundering.
It was difficult to figure out what amount of money is being laundered abroad annually from digital platform gambling, but the amount should not be less than several thousand crore taka.
These agents create an intermediary layer to facilitate monetary transactions, often involving dishonest mobile financial service agents.
The central bank has repeatedly published advertisements and notices in the media warning people not to get involved in online betting, gambling, cryptocurrency trading, and multi-level marketing, citing that those are illegal and punishable offences.
The police’s cybercrime investigators feared that digital platform gambling might increase during the upcoming cricket World Cup in India as several hundred digital gambling platforms were actively targeting Bangladeshi netizens.
The police force must be equipped with technology to suspend online gambling.