Editor's Note: This is second part of Madhyamam's investigative series on online gambling and online games like rummy
The number of people who lose their money to online rummy games is rising significantly. Thanks to the two Keralites, M.R Biju Lal, Senior Accountant, Vanchiyur Sub Treasury, Trivandrum and Bilal, the accused in the Kottayam, Thazhathangadi couple murder case who opened our eyes to the hidden dangers posing behind the online rummy games.
Their story came out only because they were involved in sensational cases that shook everyone as a whole.
However, there still are so many victims of online gambling in all the 14 districts in Kerala who never came out in fear of losing their honour even after losing lakhs of rupees.
M A Abdul Sali (65) and his wife Sheeba (60) of Kottayam, Kerala were murdered by 23-year-old Muhammed Bilal who came to their house to rob them of their money. The young man who was addicted to online rummy had lost lakhs of rupees through PubG and rummy. Further investigations from the police had revealed that he arrived at the couple's house to rob their money so that he could continue playing rummy which unfortunately ended up in the murder of the couple.
The job that goes along with the money.
In retrospect, the story of Biju Lal from one of the sensational treasury fraud cases in Kerala is an example for many. He began playing rummy for fun a year ago. In the pretext of working overtime, he used to sit in the office and play the rummy through the online portal. And this addiction continued even when he came back home from the office.
He played for ten lakhs on one site and had splurged a total of 70 lakhs in three different games. The small amount of money received from the online games, in the beginning, encouraged him to continue playing it.
When he ran out of money, he robbed 65,000 rs from his coworker and played rummy.
He had also withdrawn money from his wife's account. He then started to withdraw money from the office's bank account and transferred it to his wife's and his account. When Biju Lal got arrested for siphoning 2.74 crores from the treasury fraud case, he lost his job as well.
It's not just in Kerala, but there are plenty of Biju lal(s) in other states as well.
In another case,Gundra Ravi Teja, a chief cashier in the Nuzvid branch of Punjab National Bank in Andhra Pradesh used to transfer money from the fixed deposit accounts to his account for playing online rummy games. He had splurged a total of 1.56 crore for playing online rummy. It was when the bank manager Mohan Rao found the difference in the fixed deposit accounts when the story of Gundra Ravi's scam came out.
Those who lose their money do not talk about it
A government official from Kozhikode revealed that he had earned a small amount in the beginning and lost almost 5 lakh rupees while playing the online rummy. He then later lost three lakhs during the lockdown. The amount he received from the chit fund and the money kept aside for the construction of his home were used to play the rummy which he eventually lost. The first time when the practice game is played, the individual wonders that they could have earned more money if they had paid.
That's how one starts investing their money in online rummy. The small amount received becomes a motivation for them to invest a huge amount and play.
But he testified from his own experience that one will never win with a big amount of money.
A thirty-year-old construction worker from Balusseey, Kozhikode has lost a total of 2.75 lakh on several occasions while playing rummy. He also has about 60 friends who have similarly lost their money to online rummy. He said that those who get 1000 rs boast that they have received 5000 rs but no one steps forward to complain when they lose the money.
In another case, a Kozhikode woman who had saved money up to 3.5 lakhs by doing domestic works had her husband lose it all to rummy.
The grave consequences of this being that some of the youth are turning to drug and cannabis trafficking to earn back the money they have lost while playing rummy. Many youths who have been recently arrested have confessed that they have chosen this job to earn money to play rummy. A 23-year-old youth who had lost his money to rummy had recently sought refuge in drugs for consolation. When questioned, he brutally attacked his labourer father and bedridden mother.
Online games are therefore gravely concerning as they have the power to easily influence the youth to get addicted to it. And hence, they are not realizing the value of the money they are spending on such games. This tendency is also affecting them psychologically.
A.Shankar, Executive Director of M Power, an organization in Tuticorin clarified that the youth becomes violent when they are unable to play and seeks refuge in suicide at such cases.
Although many of the Chinese apps including Tik Tok are banned, the government has still not considered banning online games like rummy portals that take the lives of many teenagers and adults.
Rummy is presently available in Android and IOS as apps and websites. The small reward given by these rummy websites to the beginners as a welcome bonus is what attracts the players to play it.
Sometimes the company gives Rs. 1000-2000 by identifying the pattern of play of the individual after the first phase and then taking over the game in the later stages. Once they realize that the player is into it, they stop paying.
The company makes them believe that money they have lost can be earned back by investing an even higher amount of money. Thus, making it a game where one ends up trapped between knots that are impossible to untie.
The entry fees range from Rs. 25 to Rs. 12,000. The values ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 50,000 can be kept in the wallet. The players have also complained that the player opposite is usually not a human but a bot aka artificial intelligence supported computer program. They can understand the cards in our hands whereas the player can not guess what it's cards are.