Cricket betting remains unchecked despite crackdown on bookies

Matches in next three months likely to see heavy betting

Trans-national betting and hawala network on cricket remain unchecked despite police busting the Indian Premier League spot-fixing last year and the 2000 match-fixing scandals.

Sources said the money involved runs into hundreds of crores, and even top businessmen have been found indulging in betting in the past.

On the other hand, the Reserve Bank of India’s move to withdraw currency notes issued before 2005 is also likely to flush out unaccounted money stored in banks and personal lockers.

“This year’s IPL and international cricket matches in the next three months are expected to see heavy betting as black money notes are expected to be pumped into satta for circulation,” a source said.

Probes over the years have revealed that masterminds of the racket are sitting abroad and allegedly run at the behest of Pakistan-based underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Over a dozen bookies and associates were also arrested across the country last year, which included cricketers and Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh, who was seen watching an IPL game in the company of Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s wife Sakshi.

‘Dawood  involved’

Sources say Dawood coordinates the racket from Pakistan and directs one of his trusted men in London, who controls D-Company men in Dubai.

“There are hierarchies of bookies who report to a master bookie. We suspect he sits in Mumbai and is continuously monitored from Dubai,” the source added.

Musclemen are also engaged to ensure that the punters pay up in case they lose.

In July 2013, Delhi Police filed a chargesheet in the IPL spot-fixing case, alleging that Dawood and Chhota Shakeel were controlling the fixing and betting market in cricket in India.

Police even managed to trace a call on the number on March 26, 2013 but remained unaware about who was on the line. Around 9.32 pm the same day, a person from Pakistan used the number to speak to a Dubai number for 108 seconds and police found the conversation to be fishy as the word IPL was used repeatedly. It was later confirmed that Dawood was talking to an aide.

In a move that is likely to hit currency hoarders, the RBI decided to withdraw from circulation all currency notes issued prior to 2005. From April 1, the public will be required to approach banks for exchanging the notes.

From July 1, however, those wanting to exchange over 10 pieces of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in a bank where they do not have an account will have to provide proof of residence and identity.

Due to the RBI move, sources expect bookies to use large amounts during the 2014 season of the IPL.

There is a possibility for this season to be held outside of India to avoid adding to the existing security demands for the Lok Sabha Elections should its dates overlap with the tournament dates.

A decision will be made after the announcement of the dates of the elections, but bookies will also be preferring a location outside India.

Going by the RBI’s annual report for 2004-05, 36,984 million pieces of notes valued at Rs 3,61,229 crore will be impacted as they were issued before 2005. Of these, there are 3,055 million Rs 500 notes valued at Rs1,52,728 crore and 421 million Rs 1,000 notes valued at Rs 42,082 crore issued before 2005.

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