Punters, aiming for a windfall, place their bets through websites based abroad

Even before the curtain was drawn on Indian Premier League (IPL) 6, which saw Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday night, a popular online gambling website had put up the schedule for ICC Champions Trophy 2013, slated to begin from June 6 in the United Kingdom, inviting patrons to place their bets on the matches.

The website not only accepts basic wagers online such as winners and losers but also for opening partnership, boundaries and sixes even in the warm-up matches.

Though internet betting is illegal in India, many cricket-crazy punters place bets through this website, which is run by a U.K. firm.

“This and many other internet betting websites receive a lot of hits from IP (internet protocol) addresses in India,” Mirza Faizan Assad, a member of Global Cyber Security Response Team (GCSRT) here, told The Hindu.

A recent survey carried out by GCSRT has estimated that there are at least 10,500 gambling and betting websites, set up and administered by entities in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia where betting is legal.

Many popular cricket betting websites offer bets for each ball, each over or the number of wickets that will fall in the six-over power play.

Even though most of these websites don’t accept credit cards from India, there is no stopping avid gamblers here from placing their wagers thanks to the big money for big wins.

“They link their credit cards to various e-wallet accounts or online payment gateways,” Mr. Mirza said.

He added that advertisement hoardings of these betting companies, displayed prominently at sports avenues abroad and telecast into homes in India, lure a large number of people, particularly youngsters, who want to make a quick buck.

The legal angle

According to Kunigal Srikanta, who headed the first cyber crime police body in the State as its Deputy Superintendent, said that internet betting is illegal in India and punishable under Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other penal laws like Public Gambling Act 1967.

Mr. Mirza, who is also a practising advocate in the High Court, said that the Indian IT Act 2000 considers gambling using online tools as a cyber crime.

“Though the government can make the IP addresses of these websites inaccessible, precious little has been done,” he said.

It has also not bothered to appoint a nodal officer to monitor online activities as provided under the IP Act 2000. “The GCSRT had submitted a representation to the State government when D.V. Sadananda Gowda was the Chief Minister to take steps to curb cyber crime, but no action has been taken in this regard,” he said.

B.A. Mahesh, Superintendent of Police, Cyber Crime Police Station, Bangalore, however, said that the police have not received any complaints pertaining to internet betting. But, he added, “Why would anybody lodge a complaint when they are playing and benefiting?”

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