Located on the second floor of a shopping complex in east Delhi’s Krishna Nagar, the online casino that was being run in the garb of a video game parlour for children, was always a mystery for other shopkeepers.
The steps leading to it were steep. The floor was dark and littered with garbage. Unused store items were piling up in one corner. A stray dog with three puppies had taken shelter in another corner. So, shopkeepers were stunned when the ‘games parlour’ opened in August 2016.
They were in for further shock on Tuesday night, when a team of police arrived and arrested the care taker and four others for being involved in running an online casino racket.
Children-free gaming zone
“My first thought was which parent in their right mind would send their child to such a secluded place for playing video games? The shopping complex is well lit only on the ground and first floor. It’s dark and dirty on the second floor, as most of the shops are closed,” said Suresh Gaur, who runs a duplex garment store in the complex, Anand Plaza.
The parlour was operating out of shop numbers 6 and 7. No one ever saw any children coming to the parlour. Instead, men aged between 18 and 25 were often seen entering it and leaving at leisure. This unusual activity raised suspicions among shopkeepers.
Another thing that did not go unnoticed was that the parlour remained opened on Monday, the day when the shopping complex was closed. So when one of the shopkeepers gave a tipoff to the police, a constable dressed in civil dress arrived as a decoy on Tuesday. It was found that Amit (23), the caretaker of the parlour, was running an online casino racket. One of the casino games being played at the time of the raid was Russian roulette. The owner of the casino, Shailesh Jaiswal, is on the run.
CCTV to monitor customers
Five CCTV cameras had been installed inside and outside the parlour. The live recordings were fed to a main server, which was directly accessed by Jaiswal on his phone. This meant that Jaiswal would keep a close watch over the customers and monitor the games they were playing despite not being present in the parlour.
When police or a shopkeeper came towards the parlour, Jaiswal would send an alert to Amit, who would immediately press a button that would clear the computer screens of every casino-related activity.
When a team of police raided the casino on Tuesday night, shopkeepers got an inside glimpse of the parlour for the first time.
“I could hardly believe my eyes. It looked like a cyber cafe. At least nine computer machines looking like video games were inside. Each machine had numbers from 1 to 36. Later police officials told us that Amit was running an online casino,” said Gaur.
Shopkeepers said that they knew all along that something was wrong. But the fact that Amit was running an online casino came as a big shock to them.
Amit barely interacted with anyone. He mostly remained indoors. Sometimes, he came out and made small talk with other shopkeepers during tea breaks. But he was smart enough not to reveal anything about him or his work, shopkeepers said. None of them realised that he was running an online casino racket until the police arrived.
“It is bizarre that none of us realised what was happening in reality. There are many shops on the ground and first floors. Many customers come here every day. The place is popular among local shoppers. But none of us realised that there is a casino racket going on the second floor. We always thought it was a weird game parlour where children never came,” said Mayur Ahuja, another shopkeeper.