Wednesday, March 2, 2011

World Cup catches betting flu, 13 arrested


With due apologies to Australian cricket captain Ricky 'Punter' Ponting, he is not the only punter playing in this World Cup. Seriously, there have always been punters in cricket and they never retire.
Ever since the game evolved from the humble village of Humbledon in England, people have been wagering their money - from outcome of matches to something as strange as the colour of Bishan Singh Bedi's turban. Bedi apparently used to change his turbans for each session of a Test match and the Aussies used to love betting on the colour he would choose for a particular session.

That was when cricket was played by gentlemen in crisp flannels. Today, betting is a highrolling syndicate in the Western world and a similar big money spinning nefarious activity in our parts.
The World Cup give this "vice" a frenzied lease of life, spawning crores of rupees on the sly. Since the law of the land does not agree to such activities, the police obviously swoop down on such rackets operating from decrepit houses in dark alleys with an assortment of modern high-tech communication gadgets. These fly by night operators thrive on the human instinct to make money and more money.
Of late, the police have been hot on the heels of betting rackets across the country. In Delhi, they have busted three betting syndicates over the past three weeks.
On Sunday, inspector Arvind Kumar's team arrested five punters - Kuldeep Jain (32), Suresh Chand Jain(42), Ajay Jain (34), Manoj Jain (39) and Avdhesh Sharma (44) - from a house on rent in East of Kailash, south-east Delhi. These five were not taking bets directly, but 32 bookies across the city were doing their job. They were offering Rs 1.60 for every rupee invested.
The police said the punters use a computer software, Back and LayPro, to place the bets. The software can be downloaded from the internet or bought from Gaffar Market, the police added.
A rented room often attracts the police. Hence, many syndicates have moved to cars and vans. "Cars are the safest place to run a betting racket. All you need is a laptop with WiFi, mobile phone, television and a notebook.
The police have so far arrested 13 bookies in the Capital. Nine of them CUP CATCHES are property dealers. They confessed that were trying to cash in on the World Cup fever to make a quick buck.
Down south, the betting mafia has made Karnataka its new hub for the World Cup. The police have busted rackets in five different locations across the state over the past 15 days - arresting more than 25 people in Bangalore, Bellary, and Belgaum.
"We had clear information that the betting mafia has moved to Karnataka from Mumbai. They have formed a ring in the state. All the five gangs that we nabbed are interconnected," a senior police officer said.
What has appalled the police is the presence of armed guards from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar outside the houses of the betting gangs. "This is new to Bangalore. Armed guards are common in Mumbai. The Bangalore underworld does not rely on guards from other states," the officer added.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Vijayawada police on Sunday arrested five persons for betting on the India-England cricket match in Bangalore and seized Rs 2.10 lakh in cash, 12 mobile phones and a laptop.
Here again, real estate dealers from Hyderabad were involved in the betting racket. Subba Raju, a punter and property dealer, said cricket betting has two categories: match betting and fancy betting.
"Match betting is simple. In this, one can bet, for instance, on 40:42 when two favourite teams are playing. The bookie gets Rs 40,000 extra for every one lakh he bets on the first team if it wins the match. If the second team wins, he would lose Rs 42,000 for every one lakh straightaway.
As the match progresses, the bookies can raise their stake, but the basic figure remains the same," Raju explained.

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