Police keep an eye on Shillong Teer issue

Teer basically means an arrow in Hindi

Shillong Teer, a much acclaimed and popular online game in the north eastern belt of India, has found its way into Bhutan too.

This online gambling is not only gaining popular among Thimphu residents these days, but it has also led to two arrests till date by the Thimphu police. Those arrested were both women.

Thimphu police were not aware of the existence of this online game until the arrest of the two women. However, they say now that the police have become vigilant. Police have received the names of the organizers (Shillong Teer) and they are monitoring them.

The first case against Shillong Teer was, meanwhile, registered on September 9, 2020.

Although there are no official records to prove that this online gambling is hurting people’s lives, as police have not received any such kind of complaints except for a few people complaining about the organizers organizing, there have been issues raised about how such online gambling has affected family lives in social media forums.

Talking to Business Bhutan, Officer-In-Command Major Gyembo Penjor said despite advocacies done on online gambling, it is still rampant. “Public is well aware that it is illegal in Bhutan.”

According to Section 393 of the Bhutan Penal Code, a defendant shall be guilty of the offense of gambling, if the defendant stakes or wagers something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance, or a future contingent event not under the defendant’s control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that the defendant will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.

Section 394 grades the offense of gambling as a petty misdemeanor.

Adding on the challenges, Major Gyembo Penjor said it is difficult for police to apprehend the players because there are indefinite players and daily the players keep changing expect for the organizers.

“Anyone can play this online gambling, anywhere and anybody can organize this game in any social media platform. If not controlled and monitored then there is chance of it becoming a bigger issue,” he added.

It has been found that betting was made between Nu 100 to Nu 500 earlier and that it has now increased to Nu 1,000. A few people have also started to play at high stakes.

How Shillong Teer is played in Bhutan?

The game is about choosing numbers ranging from 0-99; after the numbers are booked the players bet their money against the chosen numbers.

Then a number is declared as the winner on a daily basis and the winning number is declared on www.nightteer.com every day at 11 am. An individual (admin) forms a group in social media (WeChat) with an indefinite number of members. Then the admin shares a sheet containing numbers from 0-99 with the members/players in the group whereby the members choose or book the numbers. However, one number cannot be owned by two players. Only one number is declared as the winner. The admin uses the same number announced on the website by Shillong Teer to declare the winner.

The bet amount is then transferred to the organizer’s bank account after the declaration of the result. The organizer transfers the winning amount to the winner’s account mostly using mBoB, while the organizer keeps about 15% of the total amount collected from the players as commission.

The admin/organizer does not pay any money to Shillong Teer nor is Shillong Teer aware of their results being used by organizers in Bhutan.

It is learned that the Shillong Teer played in Bhutan has no association with the Shillong Teer in India.

The organizers in Bhutan just use their online number.

A former player of the game seeking anonymity said the organizers have to pay a certain percent of royalty if they want to acquire a license to function in Bhutan.

What is Shillong Teer?

The Shillong Teer online game originated from Shillong, Assam, India. Two rounds are played and in each round, 50 archers fire arrows at the target not less than 300 arrows and not more than 1,000. The Teer officials then each count the arrows and take the last two digits of the number as the round score. For an instance, if 748 arrows hit the target in round one, the recorded score is 48, which becomes the winning number.

Most people play between 10 and 100 Rupees, but there are stories of massive bets, like 500,000 on a single number. For an instance, if you bet 10 then the winning amount is 800 in the first round, while in the second round it drops to 700.

In the past, especially in Samdrup Jongkhar, the Shillong Teer was very popular among the residents but its popularity waned with the ban on the game in the bordering areas and people losing a huge amount of money.

Earlier in Samdrup Jongkhar, it was learnt that there were open counters across the border where Bhutanese people purchased the numbers and then waited for the results online twice a day.

A businesswoman based in Samdrup Jongkhar said she played the game four years back but discontinued after she lost a huge amount of money.  She also shared how some people she knew availed loans to play Shillong Teer.

Another player said that seven years ago he was addicted to Shillong Teer. Because of fear of going bankrupt, he stopped playing.

“I studied in Shillong and that is how I came to know the game. There are cases of organizers and players on the run after they became bankrupt in Samdrup Jongkhar. Now people who are playing online now,” he shared.

Dechen Dolker from Thimphu