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Sleuth scanner on IPL betting 'crores'

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JAYANTA ROY CHOWDHURY   |   Published 20.04.10, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, April 19: The betting on IPL games may be generating between Rs 25,000 crore and Rs 40,000 crore a year from India, taxmen say.

“We believe that the amount of bets placed on IPL games could be as high as Rs 700-1,000 crore per match. After all, bets are placed on almost everything ----- wins, losses, runs per ball, the number of runs scored by a batsman, the number of wickets taken by a bowler, the Man of the Match, third umpire decisions…” a tax official said.

The punters place their bets from illegal betting rooms in various cities that feed a master betting room in Dubai. They also use online betting sites such as the UK-based Bet365, Ladbrokes, Victor Chandler and Paddypower as well as the London Stock Exchange-listed William Hill, besides the popular Betfair, BetClick, BlueSquare and others.

The odds for the Chennai Super Kings versus Delhi Daredevils game on April 15 were close: 20/21 and 19/20 respectively. It meant that a bet of Rs 2,000 got one Rs 2,100 if Chennai won, and a bet of Rs 1,900 fetched one Rs 2,000 if Delhi won, officials said.

All the betting sites accept Indian registration. Payments to the foreign websites have to be made through legal money transfers and usually in dollars, pounds or euros. Some, Bet365 for example, accept rupee accounts too.

The tax officials said betting on the foreign sites might be checked to see whether the bets from India were legal under Indian laws. The exercise will try to identify the big Indian punters and whether there is any insider trading — profiting from information not made public — within the Indian cricket board, the BCCI, officials said.

However, the Dubai connection is illegal. This betting is controlled by the underworld and the cash generated is black money which, intelligence officials suspect, may be feeding narcotic-crime syndicates, especially those controlled by Dawood Ibrahim. They believe the wealth is being ploughed into a maze of other illegal businesses.

The officials said a proper investigation into the Dubai racket could be done only with the help of UAE police and India’s intelligence agencies.

One of the theories doing the rounds on the low-intensity weekend blasts in Bangalore is that they were the handiwork of punters. These people had apparently developed cold feet on the huge bets they had placed and did not want the match to take place.

Several states’ police have busted betting rooms in places as widely separated as Jharkhand and Haryana. Mumbai, Surat, Delhi, Pune, Jaipur, Indore, Raipur and Chandigarh are among the leading centres for rupee betting.

The racket operates in Pakistan too. Cable operators there had decided not to telecast the IPL after the league’s snub to Pakistani cricketers, but had to start beaming the matches last week “on popular demand”.

A Pakistani cricket official, Shahzad Khan, recently said the “bookies (in Pakistan) are stronger than the government” and the country’s cricket board, which had recommended the ban on the telecast of IPL matches.

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