The pursuit of gambling thru’ illegal mobile games
Md Aminul Islam
In parallel with the current world, the market for mobile games in our country is growing day by day. Bangladesh ranks eighth in terms of the population density and the country is an important market in the world of games as a large population of this country are teenagers and youth. It is estimated that the market for mobile games in Bangladesh will exceed the billion taka mark by 2025. More than fifty gaming companies have already sprung up to capture the country’s billion-dollar gaming market. It is creating new jobs, foreign investments are coming, the possibility of the government earning crores of taka as Tax and Vat is increasing. Along with a number of good news about the current mobile gaming market in the country, there are also fears.
Reviewing the current market, it is seen that some foreign companies are releasing illegal and fake games that have the opportunity to gamble under the same name in imitation of popular games. These games with gambling features are spreading through dishonest dealers all over the country. It is feared that the youth and teenagers of the country are falling into the trap of making money from those games, withdrawing cash, gambling, and laundering money abroad. Controlled from outside the country, the makers of these games are out of the reach of law enforcement agencies. It is learned that these companies do not have any registered office or business registration in Bangladesh. They have been conducting business by hiring some dishonest dealers in the country. Although they earn crores of taka from the country, the government is not able to collect any revenue from them as there is no gaming policy in the country’s gaming sector.
An investigation has shown that recently some companies are using the names of some of the popular card games in Bangladesh and copying the designs of the games. KKTeenPatti is one of the games of a company named Triple Ants that have been running illegally in the country for several years. Adding to that, TeenPatti ACE PRO from the company named AY GAMES and AB Gold from Gamemonk Studio are following the same route to make money through gambling. It is believed that these companies are conducting business activities illegally in other countries of the world including Bangladesh by taking registration or establishing companies from the tax haven countries of the world besides the neighboring countries.
Moreover, some gambling or betting site activities are conducted through dealers or agents. On all these sites, you can deposit money through payment gateways like bank deposit, bKash, Rocket, Nagad; betting on various sports, from virtual casinos and all other types of gambling at home. A similar site named ‘baji’ has been very active recently. In Bangladesh, they have agents or dealers who accept money through this local payment gateway and add money to the user’s account, after which the money is smuggled abroad through money laundering.
Ridwan Ahmed, compliance manager of Ulka Games, the country’s leading mobile games maker, said the market for mobile games in Bangladesh is growing day by day. Many domestic and foreign investments are coming into this gaming industry of the country through the hands of local entrepreneurs. Following this, Ulka Games Limited started its journey in Bangladesh in 2019 with the investment of India’s popular gaming company Moonfrog Labs Limited and the company has been conducting business in accordance with all the rules and regulations of the country since its inception. The Swedish-based multinational giant Stillfront Group (SFG) recently acquired Ulka Games, including the parent company Moonfrog Labs for about USD 90 million (approximately BDT 750 crores) in February 2021. This is a huge milestone for the mobile games industry in Bangladesh.
Although we (Ulka Games) pay regular Tax & Vat, some dishonest companies are smuggling crores of taka abroad to get gambling traps in games. He added that in addition to protecting young people and adolescents, it is important to stop gambling in the name of games and hold them accountable. Although the domestic gaming industry is growing, some unscrupulous companies are taking advantage of the fact that there is still no policy in this sector. So the sooner the gaming policy is in place, the better.
[The writer is a freelance journalist]