Cricket betting is thriving in India

Cricket betting is thriving in India

Two bookies were arrested in Bengaluru last week, and police say the operators often push bettors to desperation

As India took on South Africa at a T20 match in Bengaluru last weekend, the bookies got busy and did brisk business.

One of them, however, came under the scanner of the police. By the end of the day, the Central Crime Branch had seized Rs 41.5 lakh in stakes and got leads to other bookies in Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai.   

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil says he is keeping a close eye on the betting mafia in Bengaluru. Cricket betting is illegal in India.

“We seized Rs 1.5 lakh from a bookie during the match, and on questioning, he led us to another bookie’s house where we seized Rs 40 lakh,” Patil says.

Ali, owner of Karnataka Premier League team Belagavi Panthers, was also arrested for betting. In recent weeks, police have raided 18 gambling dens across Bengaluru and made arrests. “In a month alone, we have booked five cricket betting cases and seized Rs 70 lakh. We want to contain this menace because many lose their hard-earned money and are driven to suicide,” Patil says. Much of the racket has now also gone online, with bookies sitting at their laptops and computers and conducting business.

They accept bets on all aspects of a match, from how much a batsman will score to which team will win. Even minute aspects, such as whether a batsman will get out to a particular ball, are used for gambling.

“The bettors use apps such as Bet365, Bellplay and Baazi to enlarge the betting circle. They use fake names and layers of communication to conceal their identity,” says the officer.

The frauds study profiles on social networking sites before contacting their prey. They then communicate through email and VoIP calls.

“They conceal their identities and location. For instance, if they are operating from M G Road, they tell you they are calling you from the United Kingdom. If a face-to-face meeting becomes necessary, a member of the gang meets you,” says the officer.

The bettors are mostly aged between 25 and 40 and are fluent in Hindi and English, a police officer says. 

Recent cases

September 23: CCB unearths scandal in KPL, and arrests Belgavi Panthers team owner Ali. He allegedly placed bets with a bookie in Dubai. He was in touch with players of other teams, and police are trying to find out whether he fixed any matches.

September 24: Police arrest bookies Sandeep and Rana and seize Rs 41.5 lakh. 

March 29: A bookie at Lotte Gollahalli is arrested, and Rs 2.5 lakh and 18 mobile phones seized from him.

Thrives here

Betting thrives is pockets of K R Puram Yelahanka, Majestic, Banaswadi and Koramangala, police say.

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