Amid uproar over illegal casinos in Bangladesh, the court have announced that playing such games and organising them are punishable offences, not including authorised lotteries.

The High Court observed the full text of a verdict that games played with money at stake and that were dependent on luck rather than skills were in fact gambling.

It said playing such games and organising them were punishable offences, but excluded authorised lotteries.

The games would be allowed when played without money or valuables at stake, the court added.

It is expected that the government will seriously consider amending the law so that the prohibition applies equally to all people, irrespective of their financial and social status, the full text read.

“The above-mentioned games, namely nipun khela 1-10, 1-8 charchari, dice, housie, three cards, flash, poker and any other games [except government authorized lottery] played physically, electronically or by any other instruments, the outcome of which predominantly depend on luck and not on skill, are gambling.

“Accordingly, owning, occupying any place of such games and any instruments and allowing such games to take place, is an offence under the law of the land,” it read.

It added: “Raffle draws/coupons given as a side-product of door tickets for attending picnics or to purchase any products from shopping malls, the dominant intention/purpose in those cases being to attend picnic or to purchase products, do not come within the mischief of gambling.”

The bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md Mahmud Hassan Talukder had delivered the verdict on February 10, following a written petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers Samiul Huq and Rokonuddin Md Faruq in 2016, seeking orders on the government for taking action against gambling.

“Keeping any place or office for drawing lottery, not authorised by government, is an offence punishable under Section 294 A of the Penal Code, 1860.”

Law enforcing agencies are directed to take immediate actions in seizure of clubs, and gaming equipment to prevent people from playing such games in those clubs and other clubs, it said.

The HC judges said the government should think seriously about increasing the punishment for gambling as the present punishments are lenient, considering the financial status of the people who are commonly engaged in those games.

The court also asked relevant offices to send a copy of the order to the authorities of the government, including cabinet secretary, inspector general of police, police commissioners, Rab and deputy commissioners concerned, so that the information is disseminated and actions taken.

On February 17, Dhaka Club and Gulshan Club filed two separate petitions with the Supreme Court against the HC verdict seeking a definition of gambling.

They argue in the petitions that the casinos run commercially at sporting clubs and the indoor games at social clubs are not the same thing.

After a brief hearing, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique of the Appellate Division sent the petitions to its full bench for hearing on February 23.