The debate over legalising sports betting in India is back in the light of the spot fixing allegations that has hit the just concluded sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). However, those who are closely associated with horseracing, the only sports where legalised betting is allowed, also reveal the darker side of betting in the turf clubs.

They speak not only of betting outside the legalised network but also of fixing jockeys and attempts to evade tax in turf clubs across the country.

Tax, commission

While bets can be placed with licensed bookmakers, turf clubs also offer totaliser (tote) betting to those interested. The odds of these two differ and in legal betting one has to pay 20 per cent betting tax and a 5 per cent club commission on the amount placed as bets, sources said.

“However, illegal betting outside takes place with the unlicensed bookies taking bets for a commission of up to 10 per cent. There is no tax or club commission here,” the sources said.

In some cases, even licensed bookies underreport the betting amount to the club, thereby evading tax.

“In such cases, the proximity of bookies and customers matter and the betting amount arrived at (verbally) between them will be higher than what would be entered in the register to show the club,” according to the sources.

Ways of fixing

‘Hooking the horse’ to intentionally reduce its speed or interfering with the run of the favourite horse are also not new to horseracing.

“Jockey booking has been there in racing. On many occasions, such instances have been found out by the club stewards and by the watchful eye of the stipendiary steward, who is an expert,” the sources said.

Many guilty jockeys have been suspended on this count, the sources said.

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