The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This PagePrint This Page
Hi-tech bookies stump police

Before a ball was bowled: 90/100 on favourites Sri Lanka (Rs 190 to be won on a bet of Rs 100); 105/100 on India.

After the fifth over: Sri Lanka at 70/100; India at 115/100.

After the 50th over: India jumps to 70/100; Sri Lanka slides to 115/100. With the score below 250, India is the favourite…

While India battled Sri Lanka for the ICC Champions Trophy on the Premadasa pitch, bookmakers in Calcutta and Howrah were having a field day — glued to their computers. And the betting on who would win, who would score how much, who would bag how many wickets, who would strike the first six … spread from Garia to Burrabazar.

But unlike other major cricket tournaments in recent times, the police could not carry out a single arrest during the September 12-29 ‘mini World Cup’ in Sri Lanka, despite having information that bookies were operating from several points in the heart of the city. “We have not made any arrests so far… Maybe they are no longer operating from the old places,” said DC (DD-I) Soumen Mitra on Sunday.

In the hide-and-seek game, the bookies in Calcutta appear to have stolen a tech march over the police. Thanks mainly to two new cricket-betting websites:, operated from New Delhi, and from Mumbai. Here, the betting man can log on and view the odds ‘live’, without having to dial Delhi or Mumbai, as was the case earlier, to remain clued in and give the cops a clue about their whereabouts.

“We depended a lot on tracing the phone calls made by the punters and bookies. The more the calls and the longer the conversation, the easier it was for us to trace them and catch them red-handed. But with the advent of technology like cricket-betting websites, our job is really cut out,” admitted superintendent of police (Howrah) Rajesh Kumar.

One had to register to access either website to view the live odds. After registering, anyone could access the ball-by-ball odds, fluctuating like the Indian fielding standards. Both the sites provided a host of information to the punter on the pitch, weather conditions, and match history. In, a subscriber also got to know detailed information about team composition and player statistics at the start of each match.

“We have heard about betting sites, but it is impossible to take any action unless we get a written complaint,” said a senior officer of the anti-rowdy squad in Lalbazar.

Email This PagePrint This Page