Supporters of Kolkata Knight Riders cheer during their T20 League match against Pune Warriors in Ranchi. (PTI Photo)
See-saw matches, thrilling victories and dismal drubbings make the T20 league a huge draw — for fans as well as for those in the illegal betting business. But heavy losses on wagers, and the abduction-murder of a 13-year-old boy as a result of such a loss, has brought out the seamy side of the glamorous game.
On Tuesday, Himanshu Ranka, 28, had his cousin kidnapped and murdered for a Rs. 30-lakh ransom. Addicted to betting on the league for the last six years, he had amassed huge losses.
Season 6 is expected to witness betting to the tune of Rs. 45,000 crore — Rs. 3,000 crore more than last year. Punters have lost Rs. 10,000-12,000 crore so far. Youngsters like Ranka make up a huge number of those putting money on the game.
On average, each tie witnesses betting to the tune of Rs. 500 crore, likely to go up to Rs. 1,000 crore for the semis and the final.
The settlement is done the day after the match. “This puts enormous pressure on some punters who run out of cash,” said a bookie. Pressure that could lead to crime, he added, referring to Tuesday’s tragedy.
In Delhi, bookies are working out of SUVs so their cellphones don’t give them away. “The idea is to escape surveillance and raids,” said a police officer. “Big players are travelling to Noida, Gurgaon, Sonepat and Panipat to place bets or simply operating on the move on Delhi’s highways.”
In Kolkata, betting volume has gone up with the Knight Riders having won the last season.
with Delhi, Kolkata Inputs