Rash of 'Screw Belt' gambling cases

Organisers can make more than Dh2,000 in a public session of the game.

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DUBAI // Dubai Criminal Courts have heard at least 11 cases of an roadside gambling game called "Screw Belt" since November.

"Gambling offences usually were held in private and secluded spots, however, these new cases appearing are being carried out in public areas like tunnels, squares and parks," said a police official.

"A table, a screwdriver and a belt is all one needs," he said.

The game, described by prosecutors at the court, involves a cloth strip that is wrapped around a screwdriver on a small table where customers deposit any amount. When they pull the cloth to free the screwdriver they can double their money if it remains on the table and does not fall on the ground.

"Most of the cases we have come across the bets were Dh50 and double your money back," he said. "Usually there were two or even three people involved."

A person runs the game while the other ushers the crowds in and the third participates as a member of the crowd to generate interest, he said.

Prosecution records show that the majority of arrests in "screw belt" gambling have come from "confidential sources", informants or officers on patrol.

The most popular spots were found to be around Baniyas square in Deira, near major bus terminals and around labour camps, according to prosecution records.

Gamblers in public will face deportation and up to two years in jail, according to Dubai Public Prosecution.

"A lot of the persons arrested were found to be either unemployed people or illegal residents," the police official added.

A case that was before the courts this week revealed that organisers can make more than Dh2,000 in a public session.

The defendants were found in a tunnel at Deira's Baniyas Square where police were alerted to the scene on August 11.

One officer testified that he found DY, a 34-year-old stone mason from Bangladesh, ushering people to gamble in the street with HA, 27, a farmer who was taking the bets.

The officer said that they had recovered more than Dh2,000 in earnings from the defendants.

In another case that was before the courts in December, a police officer spotted a gathering at the fruits and vegetable market and went to investigate.

He found a man taking bets from bystanders to gamble.

"I saw a large grouping of people and saw the suspect standing in front of a table where he had a cloth wrapped around the screwdriver in a way that it can be pulled from both sides," the officer told prosecutors.

"He was offering people to double their money if he pulled the cloth and the driver remained on the table," he said.

Another case shared by prosecutors that was before the courts last month showed a defendant who "ran a gambling action casino" at the Al Quoz industrial area.

The man, who confessed before the court, gathered a group of people and agreed with them that the loser pays the amount of money to the winning party and split the people in to two teams.

Records show that the man organised the game in a way to attract as much people as he can and attain commissions of the earnings.