Bookies are betting big on technology and raking in hundreds of crores of rupees during cash-rich Indian Premier League games.
A 12-second broadcast lag, stolen live feed and ball-by-ball live commentary over the phone from inside the stadium — bookies are milking it all, an investigation by the Ahmedabad unit of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has revealed. Several arrests have also been made, sources said.
“They make their man sitting inside the stadia (pitch-sider) provide ball-by-ball commentary during matches,” an officer with the unit said.
HT wrote in April that the unusually long telecast lag was being exploited by bookies who employ pitch-siders to gain an unfair advantage. Typically, it takes feed three-five seconds to travel before it is beamed live on television.
“As there is a lag between real-time and the telecast feed, live inputs from the ground help bookies manipulate betting patterns because by the time people place their bets, these bookies already know what has happened on the ground,” the officer said.
But, the bookies are not entirely dependent on pitch-siders. In fact, they rely more on technology. They even steal feed — almost similar to the way power is stolen — to gain an upper hand.
“We are also investigating how these people are getting illegal access to ‘live uplink’ feed of IPL matches much before it is beamed to viewers,” the officer said.
The ED, which tracks money-laundering and investigates foreign exchange violations, was trying to find out who had installed high-frequency antennas allowing bookies to receive the link, sources said.
It was also investigating UK-based betting site Betfair for any possible collusion with the arrested bookies, sources said.
It will write to the UK authorities to seek details of transactions involving Betfair. Investigators suspect hawala channels (illegally moving money by skirting banking channels) were used in the transactions between Betfair and these bookies.
Over the last two months, the ED’s Ahmedabad unit has unearthed a ` 2,000-crore international betting racket. It also made arrests under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Two of the bookies were arrested from Delhi and Gurgaon in May.
A lag of a few seconds was standard, Prasanna Krishnan, business head of Sony Six, the IPL broadcaster, had told HT.
“The broadcast of any event live from the venue to TV screens involves the transmission of the broadcast signal across several intermediate stages via satellite and cable which leads to a time lag of a few seconds. This is standard across the industry…,” he said in April.