Last season, there were rumours about how betting syndicates were involved in the Indian Cricket League (ICL). No one really took those rumours seriously, looking at it more as a publicity stunt.
This season though, ICL has taken good care of the publicity. The marketing has been better, the roster has featured bigger names and there is far more interest in it. And, apparently, the bookies are in business.
Diwali reportedly, has seen the betting meter hit an all time high (despite the economic gloom). HT caught up with a bookie who did not want to be named. He made an intriguing claim, insisting that there were betting syndicates at work in the ICL, powerful enough to turn the nature of the game, giving rise to speculation relating to match-fixing.
“Last year it wasn't that high as the tournament kept a low profile,” he said. “This year though, with increased viewership, betting is gradually picking up.”
However, a punter said it was negligible compared to the amount of betting on the ongoing India-Australia Test series. “The India-Australia Test series is an all time high on the betting meter with crores spent in a single day."
On the ICL, he estimated “Rs 90 to 100 crore would be the satta figure in the ICL” (in toto). Explaining the procedure, a punter who has lost close to Rs 12 lakh over the past season said, “A T20 game gives a punter three chances to place his bets — the first 10 overs, the next 10 overs and the first 10 overs of the second innings. Then of course, bets put on the match come into effect.
Many believe that despite the strict anti-corruption laws in place, betting still does have an influence on the nature of the game. "Powerful betting syndicates make sure that they don't incur losses so they try and influence the match itself, giving rise to the possibility of match-fixing," a punter claimed. He wouldn't elaborate but then added, "The ICL is very different from other matches (Tests and ODIs) as all its lines (phone lines) are controlled locally, unlike the betting sites on the Internet which provide odds for Tests and ODIS, which are usually controlled from abroad."
And then he made what amounted to a preposterous claim, one he couldn't or wouldn't substantiate, implying certain IPL games were “controlled” with "results decided in advance". He let slip a hint. “A Delhi-based woman mans the controls of a very powerful betting syndicate and everyone knows it.”
And what does the officialdom think of these claims? An anti-corruption official with the ICL said, "We try and keep corruption to a minimum — like not allowing mobile phones in the players’ room one hour before the commencement of the match. But eradication is difficult."
The Delhi Police's DCP, Crime, Neeraj Thakur told HT that betting comes under the Gambling Act. “Gambling is a punishable offence." But there is a problem, he added. "We can only take cases that come in our jurisdiction. Gambling is legalised in many countries of Europe, we can't do anything about that for obvious reasons."