Attraction towards online gambling on rise across the country

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By Nayak Paudel

Kathmandu, Oct.30: Nepal Police have been arresting hundreds of individuals for gambling with cards and sea shells (locally called ‘kauda’) on the basis of special tipoff. According to Nepal Police Headquarters daily bulletins, 78 gamblers were held from four different districts with over Rs. 2 million in cash during the festival of Tihar.

Betting or any kind of gambling is illegal under Clause 125 of the Criminal Code, 2074. Under the law, anyone found guilty for the first time is liable to face a jail sentence of up to three months or a fine of up to Rs 30,000.

Similarly, if an individual is arrested twice on the same charge, s/he will face one-year jail sentence and a fine of up to Rs 50,000.

According to authorities, while physical gambling has been difficult to control, online platforms have complicated the problem. 

Authorities have been trying their best to prevent online gambling over the years, however, the digital crime has been continuing unabated for lack of necessary resources and effective policies.

How is online gambling operated in Nepal?

1xBet, an online gambling company registered in Cyprus, is the most common platform in Nepal. The registration process is easy. Moreover, you even get a phone call from a Nepali individual from a foreign number within hours of registering.  

The individual helps you understand the process of gambling and assures that it is safe and easy. The information also includes contact of a Nepali agent who will work as a middleman for the transactions between Nepali players and 1xBet operators abroad.

Since the platform is illegal in Nepal, direct transactions to 1xBet are difficult. Bets cannot be placed through the site without depositing money in the website’s profile. 

Digital wallets like eSewa, Khalti and IME Pay alongside bank-to-bank transactions and connectIPS are being used. Bogus documents are used to create fake accounts in the wallets and banks to place the bets and receive the winning amount.

The wallets and bank accounts are operated by the agents associated with the gambling website. The information of digital wallets provided in 1xBet website on Saturday were Khalti ID 9807945908, registered in a name starting from ‘D’, eSewa ID 9804994959, registered in the name of Mina Limbu and IME Pay ID 9826222375 registered in the name of Shailendra Mahato. 

A QR code of eSewa ID 9860362974 is also provided. ConnectIPS ID 9818444785 of Rabin Rana Magar and bank account number ‘02400708SB’ of Anil Tamang are also available for depositing process.

An individual can become an agent of the 1xBet after depositing certain sum of money as collateral. The agent then works as middleman between the website and gamblers and earns through commission while placing bets and withdrawing winning amount for the players. 

When an individual deposits the desired amount in the digital wallet 

or bank account provided through the website, the agent deposits the money in the depositors 1xBet’s profile. 

After the money is deposited, an individual can place bet on almost 

every type of games including casino, football, cricket and races. Moreover, bets can be placed from minor odds to final results throughout the game.

In a live cricket match, in addition to placing on the winning side, bets can be placed on how many runs a particular batsman will score and how many boundaries a batsman will hit in an over as well.

An individual will earn more when s/he wins after placing a bet with less odds of happening.  

Why is online gambling attracting more individuals?

Google Trends, a website by Google that analyses the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages, shows that the rate of people searching for ‘1xBet’ was on rise over the years. 

The trend has increased rapidly after the COVID-19-led lockdown. In the mid-week of June, 2021, the trend of searches related to 1xBet had reached 100 per cent. Now, the figure stands at 84 per cent.

“I was bored at home during COVID-19 lockdown when I saw advertisements of 1xBet through YouTube and Facebook. After I started placing bets on the site, it became more interesting and addictive with time,” said Sangam, an undergraduate IT student living in Koteshwor.

“The bets I place are secret, so are my wins and losses. I often place bets on football matches because I love the game and I am well aware about 

the teams and players throughout the major leagues of the world. I have earned a good amount of money in the past one year from 1xBet,” said Sangam.

According to him, many of his college friends are into 1xBet to earn extra money. Police officers informed that people were using 1xBet and similar websites for betting and gambling because the odds of getting caught either by a family member or the law enforcement agency are slim.

Many Nepali YouTubers and social media influencers have been promoting gambling sites freely while the authorities continue to look away.

What are authorities doing to curb online gambling? The 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is underway and 2022 FIFA World Cup is commencing. With two of the major events in line, more bets are being placed through 1xBet.  

On August 19, 2022, Jhapa Police arrested four individuals on the charge of operating online gambling through 1xBet from an education consultancy in Damak. Owner of Padma International Consultancy Sat Prakash Sah, 25, and owner of British Army Training Centre Damak Arun Karki, 30, were two of the arrested.

Police had confiscated 279 used SIM cards and 45 unused SIM cards of Ncell, 19 mobile phones, four laptops and different government stamps and papers for forgery purposes from the four individuals.

“It is easy to get a SIM card with the help of a citizenship photocopy. One can then easily register for a digital wallet through the SIM card for transactions. The racket had used several such fake SIM cards for digital wallets and bank accounts. Transactions worth millions of rupees were performed through them to as far as Russia,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Dilip Giri, chief of Damak Area Police Office.

Talking to The Rising Nepal, Uttam Raj Subedi, Additional Inspector General of Police (AIGP) and chief of Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) informed that the online gambling had negatively affected the economic sector of the country.

“We have studied 1xBet and other online gambling sites thoroughly over the years. It is difficult to arrest the involved individuals and agents because of fake details. We also don’t have proper resources to tackle digital crimes effectively,” said AIGP Subedi.

Similarly, CIB officials argued that a large sum of money being transacted for gambling through digital wallets and ‘hundi’ was being used to manage transaction with 1xBet abroad.

Digital wallets like eSewa and Khalti often inform that they have disabled hundreds of fake accounts used for betting over the years. However, new accounts are created easily again. 

“Easy availability of SIM cards, registering with digital wallets and creating bank accounts have encouraged online gambling throughout the country. These aspects should be regulated properly,” said AIGP Subedi.

Meanwhile, Nepal Rastra Bank has only directed the Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) to block gambling and cryptocurrency sites from the internet. 

The NTA, on April 25, 2022, had directed all internet service providers to disable websites involved in betting, virtual currency and network marketing. The site of 1xBet has since been blocked but it is still easily accessible through Virtual Private Network (VPN) or by changing the server to public Domain Name System (DNS).

While online gambling continues to be a major challenge, law enforcement agency has requested authorities like banks and wallets to not allow easy registration for new accounts. 


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