Ahmedabad: Just about everyone’s getting on to the Rs150-300 crore a day betting market in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“They play the share markets in the morning and the cricket market in the evenings. The Twenty20 phataphat (quick) cricket has made it possible,” a small-time bookie based in Ahmedabad said, on condition that he would not be named because sports betting in India is not legal.
Punters’ pick: Delhi Daredevils’ Gautam Gambhir. At present, the Delhi team is the favourite of some bookies.
While British betting houses such as Ladbrokes Plc. can only express interest in entering the cricket market in India if betting is legalized, anyone who can win the confidence of the punters—housewives, grocery shop owners or stock brokers—have been placing huge bets on IPL matches.
“About Rs10,000-12,000 crore will be bet during the entire tournament,” said another Ahmedabad-based bookie with active links in Mumbai. “The major centres are Mumbai, Gujarat, Jaipur, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai.”
Another small-time operator from the eastern part of Ahmedabad said, “We bet on everything—toss, team formation, opening bowler, if runs will be scored on the first ball. Anything you can think of.”
Such bookies don’t get to play the larger pie; they have to operate within areas demarcated for them. A bookie in Shah-e-Alam or Raipur in the eastern part of Ahmedabad, for instance, cannot take bets from the western part of the city. “It is the big fish in Mumbai and Jaipur who are in direct touch with their bosses abroad,” the bookie said.
But with police in Kolkata and Punjab making some arrests for betting on IPL matches, the operators are not taking many chances. They now demand recommendations for a person to be allowed into the betting ring. “Unless you come with a reference, we will not even talk to you, forget allow you to place a bet,” said a bookie from Mumbai.
The bookies hire small-time operators to function as brokers and collecting agents. They collect money from those who want to place bets, allowing credit facility for only an exclusive few. “It (credit facility) depends on your track record and the money you bet,” a bookie said.
As on Saturday night, the top three bookie favourites were Chennai Super Kings, led by India Twenty20 and one-day captain M.S. Dhoni, followed by Virender Sehwag’s Delhi Daredevils and Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals.
“Things could change over time. Some foreign players have gone back home. Chennai’s Mathew Hayden and Mike Hussey have gone back to play for Australia, so Delhi Daredevils have become the hot favourite,” said another Ahmedabad-based bookie.
It is not just the local players who offer odds. “Some of the foreign (betting) players even provide online odds and accept betting as if it is legal there. The betting rates in India is mostly in sync with those abroad,” he said.