Vijayawada

The murky world of cricket betting

Pasupuleti Nagarjuna, a 23-year-old MBA graduate, dreamt of making a career as an SAP-certified professional. A native of Rajupalem village in Sattenapalli mandal, Nagarjuna completed his MBA from KL University near Vijayawada and since 2018, was undergoing specialised training in SAP in Hyderabad until March this year.

In May, Nagarjuna found his dreams crumbling to dust after the Guntur Rural Police charged him with running an illegal website and cheating scores of college-going youth, working professionals and many others hooked to the murky world of cricket betting.

In just over 20 days during the IPL 2019 season, Nagarjuna is alleged to have pocketed ₹33 lakh, with police claiming to have seized ₹22 lakh from him on the basis of a complaint lodged by a man in Sattenapalli.

Questions arise

The case threw up shocking revelations. How did this 23-year-old with no criminal background and a dream of making a career as an IT professional end up as a cricket bookie?

Nagarjuna’s arrest led police on a hot trail of punters across the country. The arrest of Abhir Chanda, a 33-year-old punter from Kolkata, led the police to Sayan Ghosh, a Delhi-based game developer. The police have sent notices to Ghosh summoning him for questioning.

Betting is not new to India. It is organized on two platforms — online and offline. Offline betting is usually done by punters and bookies through a platform in which a communicator box with several phones connected to it is used in a conference mode by the bookie, who is in contact with his punters on a real-time basis during the course of a match. The bookie in turn will depend on any mobile app or website or live commentary mobile phone connection for information of the weather, team composition and match scores.

Lengthy process

While about 80% of betting is done offline, online betting is getting traction among youth as it can be done with a smartphone. On the online platform, an admin/owner will have a website and he can create a network of bookies and punters and can accept betting amounts from punters.

For punters, gaining access to betting websites, which are banned in India, requires some mastery. Web designers develop cricket betting software, based on masked APIs of Lotusbook.com, which is said to be using licensed API of Betfair.com of UK (a legal betting site in UK but banned in India).

 

They then sell the websites to different admin/owners for a sum ranging from ₹1 lakh to ₹2 lakh.

The admin/owner will need to register the domain name and then forward the user ID and password of that domain name to the web page designer, who will configure the DNS settings of the website and will integrate the website developed by him to the that domain name and host the website either on MS Azure/Google Cloud/ Mongo DB platforms on a rental basis.

From then, online betting becomes easy as the web designers will create/share admin user ID, password and link that website to the purchaser (admin/owner). He in turn will create user IDs and passwords for those involved in betting.

Intricate network

The organised network is headed by admins who in turn work with Master Distributor Level punters – one who manages a number of online bookies on a profit sharing/rent basis with admin. The MDL punters in turn shares the links with all distributor level punters, who will organize betting online with the help of bookies. The structure of the website can create 230 users at any level. All transactions are made online.

The Guntur police, on questioning Abhir, found that there are websites like Bullsexch1.com, kingexch.com, osgbook.com hosted on MS Azure. The accused hosted websites like speedexch.com, aAd88exch.com, lotousbook.com, Sharkexch.com and fairlotus.com.

The police on the other hand, are unable to make a big breakthrough in the investigation. Any efforts to block websites did not yield results, as the web designers have started developing new sites using the same source code.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 2:54:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/murky-world-of-cricket-betting/article27173507.ece

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