As candidates, cutting across party lines, wait on tenterhooks for the results of the polls to the State Legislative Assembly, expected to be out by noon on Wednesday, also watching closely would also be thousands of people who have gambled on the outcome. Much is at stake, as bets have been placed running into several crores of rupees, and in some cases involving vehicles, pets, cattle, and even landed properties. This is especially true in a number of hard-fought constituencies or where senior leaders are in the fray.
“The odds changed in several constituencies after the polling was completed. This was based on voter turnout, caste combinations and in some cases booth-wise voter turnout,” said a bookie who is hoping to make a quick buck. In Varuna constituency, the odds in favour of Mr. Siddaramaiah changed from 60 paise to 40 after polls concluded, making him a clear favourite.
Besides the changing odds, fixed odds — on which people placed their bets soon after the nominations were filed — have also attracted big money, he added. Odds are also equal in many constituencies witnessing close contests such as Rajajinagar, Nanjangud and Melkote among others.
A curiosity is about this political betting is that professional gamblers are focussing on the Indian Premier League currently under way. Gambling is taking place in a more informal way and in known circles. Some race bookies are also taking bets. The commission is anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent.
Interestingly, some political activists told The Hindu bookies are passing up many contests such as Mandya where actor and former Union Minister Ambareesh is contesting and in K.R. Pete where former Speaker Krishna is in the fray. “This is because everyone wants to bet on a particular candidate who is seen as a clear favourite. In such scenarios, we end up incurring losses,” said a bookie.
According to him, interest in such betting is always higher in rural areas where political affiliations are clearly demarcated. This often brings two local leaders head on, bringing their respective followers.