Monks warn of ‘corruptive’ gambling

Monks in Burma have said that the government’s continued sanctioning of gambling on certain occasions will cause a breakdown in societal morale, following the murder of a gambler last week.

The incident took place in a rural village in Irrawaddy division’s Myanaung township on what is known as ‘Our Day’ in Burma, a quasi-charity event when the prohibition on gambling is temporarily lifted to allow people the chance to raise funds for certain ceremonies, such as the opening of a new school.

The culprit, believed to be from Thanbayarkwin village in the delta region, was quickly apprehended by bystanders. Little more is known about the murder, but it has sparked calls from the monastic community to slap a blanket ban on all forms of betting.

“I would like to make a request to the district police commander through the media to stop the gambling, not only in Myanaung but across Burma, via levels of government organisations,” said one monk from a monastery in nearby Innbin village.

“There have been random cases of murder and robbery and I am saying this so they will stop.”

Despite the laws surrounding the practice, croupiers are believed to regularly bribe government authorities into turning a blind eye, while numbers of casinos do a roaring trade in the country’s remote border regions.

The concerns were echoed by a Pegu resident who said that ongoing gambling, particularly amongst youths, was inflicting hardship on families there.

“Kids are the earliest to arrive at the gambling matches when Our Day takes place. They have those chicken and frog games, dice games and also darts,” said the man.

“Most youths around school age are gambling there and will even steal from their families when they run out of money. They are being corrupted. The dice games are especially bad.”

Parents were also struggling to think of places to turn to, given that the Burmese government showed no intention of banning the practice.

“The Our Day here is held in collaboration with the police who provide security [at the gambling events]”, he continued. “The kids are only concentrating on gambling and their parents are very sad about this. They can’t complain about it because the authorities are also part of it.”

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