The country main political opposition party says it can’t support the government’s plans to open foreigner-only casino zones, sentiments echoed by the country’s current finance minister.
Reaction has been swift to the announcement by Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Secretary Mohibul Haque that the Bangladesh government wanted to create four “exclusive tourist zones” in which foreign passport-carrying tourists could gamble in casinos.
Haque said three of the zones would be built on the country’s border with India in the districts of Satkhira and Bagerhat and in the city of Khulna. A fourth zone would be designated in the city of Cox’s Bazar near the border with Myanmar.
Not if Abdul Moyeen Khan, leader of the country’s main opposition, gets his way. Moyeen calling the proposal “an immoral step,” noting that gambling is strictly forbidden in the country, and “what is a sin for our people can’t be good for foreigners.” Moyeen also worried that the mere proximity to gambling would “spread among the people of Bangladesh”
Several leaders of the Jubo League, the youth wing of the Awami League, have been accused of complicity in the operation of as many as 60 illegal casinos that have been uncovered in Dhaka over the past week. Many of these casinos were discovered in sporting clubs and some club directors have claimed that they only permitted the activity due to “political pressure.”
Finance Minister Kamal said the authorities were examining bank records to determine who may have been connected to the casinos’ operations. Kamal vowed that action would be taken against anyone who can’t explain the origin of certain payments.
The developing media narrative points to the involvement of as many as 100 Nepalese nationals in running the casino operations. These foreign nationals were reportedly in Bangladesh on tourist visas and many of them were said to have fled the country ahead of last week’s initial raids, allegedly after being tipped off by local police.