Bookies involved in cricket betting have a well-oiled network and an association to protect themselves in times of crisis. Each bookie has an average of 30 punters and bets are taken over phone. Though many punters lost huge money, there was no complaint as participation in the betting is voluntary, investigators in the Crime Branch CID of Tamil Nadu police said on Friday.

The bookies association has a president — Prashant, a businessman of Ayanavaram. “Each bookie paid him Rs. 30,000 a month during the IPL season as protection money…Prashant had claimed that he was well connected and would bail them out if any problem arose. We suspect that he is directly linked to the kingpin based in New Delhi,” Superintendent of Police S. Rajeswari told The Hindu.

Special teams were looking for Prashant, Fasna and others who organised betting not only in the ongoing IPL season but for other cricket matches as well. “These bookies operated from full-fledged offices with adequate communication gadgets and manpower. Going by the betting methodology and profit ratio, cash transactions to the tune of a few crores of rupees could have taken place in recent weeks,” she said.

Explaining the modus operandi, Ms. Rajeswari said the pattern of betting was such that the bookies would stand to gain on most occasions irrespective of the outcome of the match. Some punters were cheated and not paid according to their profit margin.

“In case a strong team with high chances of winning is playing, punters betting on that team would get a profit of 40 paise per rupee. At the same time, anyone betting on the weaker team would get 80 paise per rupee. Punters would increase the quantum of betting on either team as the match progressed…at times when they ran out of money, the bookies arranged funds for interest,” she said.

Going by the admissions of the bookies arrested, she said the prime suspect was sitting in New Delhi with a nationwide network of operators. “They were all connected through mobile or landline phones. People around the offices of the bookies found nothing unusual happening as punters placed betting orders over phone.”

Besides the provisions under IPC, the CBCID has also invoked Section 4 (d) of the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act which says “whoever advances or furnishes money for the purpose of gaming, with persons frequenting any place, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees.”

Inspector-General of Police (CBCID) M.N. Manjunatha said the agency was investigating complaints of betting for about a week now and the operation had nothing to do with the Special Cell of the New Delhi police that arrested Sreesanth and two others. However, CBCID would coordinate with the Delhi Police in the case as the main accused was based in the national capital.

More In: National | News | Sports | Chennai