The upcoming assembly elections hold high stakes not only for politicians but also for bookies.
With polling less than three weeks away, the betting market has already gone above Rs 1,500 crore. Bookies are busy adding to their clientele in cities across Punjab, including Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar. The amount is expected to increase manifold as the D-Day nears.
The clientele, which usually puts money on cricket matches, has swelled in the past month, particularly after the announcement of the polls on December 24.
The wave of rebellion in the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) as well the Congress has reportedly changed the betting scenario, while some new faces have become the bookies’ favourites at the expense of stalwarts. The Anna Hazare factor is also said to be playing a key role.
A gambler said assembly constituencies with win-loss stakes of 60:40, 80:60 and 50:70 would be betted upon heavily.
“The betting rates are expected to go up to Rs 50 crore each on some seats, especially in constituencies where money power calls the shots,” he added.
When contacted, Ludhiana police commissioner Ishwar Chander said, “Any unlawful activity, including betting and gambling, will be dealt with strictly. I have directed the cyber crime wing to keep track of the network of the organised betting sector and also of small-time and local bookies.”
Businessmen, real-estate dealers and members of some affluent families of Ludhiana are reportedly among the betting enthusiasts.