The gentlemen’s game has been tarnished by the spot fixing scandal that erupted towards the end of the Indian Premier League 6 involving three Rajasthan Royals players. Huge amounts of money involving the betting syndicate has exposed nexus of bookies, players and actors, among others, threatening the very foundation of belief of crores of fans across the country.
While betting found initial references in West Asia when Sharjah was a popular cricketing destination in the 1980s and 1990s, it soon expanded its tentacles. Today, the racket is well entrenched in the country, as evidenced by arrests of bookies across the country. In Bangalore, the National Market in Upparpet is a thriving hub for betting where lakhs are traded on cricket matches. Several bookies also operate from nondescript addresses. The stake amount is huge, but no casual punters are permitted. “Those who bet and the bookies have a personal rapport and operate through special software or through mobile phones. It’s very difficult to track them down,” a police official told The Hindu.
According to police, several main bookies, including Narahari and Shivu, have shifted base from Bangalore to Mumbai after a crackdown a couple of years ago. However, the police believe that they are still operating here with the help of their local contacts. “It is difficult to track them down due to the technological advances as the bookies don’t even talk on their mobile phones, operating instead through custom-made software.”
Analysing the betting scenario in Bangalore, Inspector-General of Police Alok Kumar, who was earlier heading the Central Crime Branch, said that the betting crimes continue unabated in the city because the punishment is not a deterrent.
“We usually register a case against bookies under the Karnataka Police Act which specifies the maximum punishment of one year. To make it more stringent, the police usually book them under cheating section also to enhance the punishment. But this section is usually quashed by the court due to lack of evidence. This is because no punters will come forward to testify they have been cheated,” said another police officer.
To make the law more stringent, the city police had sent a proposal to invoke the Goonda Act against bookies, but it is still pending before the government, rued a police officer.