Gold, silver, diamond, cars and even immovable property such as homes and land — the odds are likely to be cashless this Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket season.
Betting is illegal in the country but a large, entrenched and clandestine network of bookies operate during India’s richest sporting event that kicks off its 10th season in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
The bets are expected to gross more than Rs 2,000 crore this year, though mostly in jewels and real estate because of a cash crunch. The government’s move to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000-banknotes last November wiped out 86% of the money in circulation in a cash-driven economy.
No risk of cash transaction
“If you don’t have cash, feel free to put bets in gold and silver ornaments, cars and properties. Dealing in large amounts of cash is risky,” said a seasoned punter in Lucknow on Tuesday. He didn’t wish to be named for obvious reasons.
The winners can expect to double or treble the gold they wagered, depending on the nature of the bet.
Demonetization has dealt a blow, but not quite enough to deter the hardcore gamblers. “The IPL has become a habit and for many betters, it’s fun as well a mode to make some money,” the bookie said.
Play SUV, take home bagful of cash
People have wagered cars and ornaments before the demonetisation drive too, informed a punter from Allahabad.
He said a man gambled his Scorpio for a Mumbai Indians match, and got paid in cash when he won his bet. “He was short of money, so he staked his big car.”
The illegal betting business picked up after the government raised the cash withdrawal limit from banks.
“But small-time bookies will be hit because of cash shortage after the demonetisation. For the big ones, it’s going to be business as usual because most of them have transferred their accounts into safe hands capable of finding a way out,” the Allahabad punter said.
Mobile apps for illegal betting
Uttar Pradesh police have made elaborate arrangements to prevent the IPL gambling. There will be Special Task Force (STF) teams to track down rackets, while digital surveillance, stakeouts and stealth are being used to monitor familiar betting dens in Lucknow and the districts.
“Police teams are trying to identify specially designed mobile apps being used for betting,” said inspector general of police, A Satish Ganesh.
Bookies have developed apps to hoodwink cops. These apps, where people can wager their money or jewels, will help the punters operate even from public places without drawing attention.
Taking the fair betting route
But not all gamblers will be reaching out for the apps and the sneaky bookie.
A young man said he would prefer legal sites such as Bet365 and Betfair.
“Bet365 accepts the Indian rupee directly, which is a huge plus. It is hard to top the selection at Bet365, including live IPL betting.”
Betfair.com offers odds for IPL through their betting exchange. They are a great option to check for value on odds. However, they do not accept the Indian rupee directly.
“It’s the safest way to bet as it lets you have a sense of security, and the two sites have 25 different categories of betting. Go take your pick,” the man said.
Since India’s annual T20 cricket event has developed into a worldwide phenomenon with a large international audience, it’s not difficult to find IPL betting with several online bookmakers.
“However, as Indian punters we prefer Bet365. They have the best selection of IPL lines, and are the most trusted site accepting Indian bettors,” the young man said.