Punters in central India have placed bets of over Rs.213 million for the 12-nation Twenty20 World Championships cricket carnival starting in South Africa on Tuesday and have picked India along with Pakistan and Sri Lanka as title favourites, virtually writing off mighty Australia, betting market sources said.
Punters said small bookies and gamblers have shown keen interest in the inaugural Twenty20 tournament, pouring in money way beyond market expectations.
Chhattisgarh state capital Raipur has emerged as one of the favourite grounds for punters, guided and controlled by the Middle East-based big bulls - the word used for "satta" kings. They run the betting market through a chain of collection centres set up over the past five years in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
"Since Sep 4 all of sudden the satta market has gained momentum for the Twenty20. Punters have staked Rs.213 million money till Sunday night from central India alone and the volume is expected to cross Rs.500 million by Tuesday when hosts South Africa will take on West Indies in the first game," a top Raipur-based bookie Akib Bhai, told IANS Monday.
Raipur's Sadar Bazar is the hub of the illegal betting market, and bookies who collect the betting money during key tournaments in cricket-mad India are hardly ever nabbed by the police. March 2005 was indeed an exception when police busted a global betting racket worth Rs.1 billion in a private Raipur residence with the arrest of three bookies ahead of a India-Pakistan Test at Mohali.
"Nearly 43,000 gamblers have put their money and 65 percent are favouring Asian majors India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as favourites. Nearly 37 percent of the bets are on India winning the tournament," said a senior bookie who goes by the adopted name of Raja.
Akib Bhai, who along with colleague Raja, command central India's fast growing betting market, claimed: "Central India's betting market is expected to make total business of about Rs 850-Rs 900 million by Sep 22 when the tournament reached the semi-final stage."
The final is slated for Sep 24.
"As per the satta market, only 13 percent of punters are showing faith in world champions Australia and 11 percent on the West Indies while 5-9 percent are rallying behind England along with Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Scotland," market sources claimed.
The source further added "those in the illegal betting market will get four times the amount they have staked if their favourites reach the semi-finals. The payout becomes five times the bet if their favourites figure in the final and six times they have backed the tournament winner."