At a time when investors are shying off from projects, blaming the economic downturn for funds crunch, the bookies are gearing up for a business of over Rs 10,000 crore this summer, thanks to the general elections in the world’s biggest democracy.
And the bets will not be limited to within the country, bookies and punters from several Asian countries are likely to join the fray.
Though the rates for the number of seats the parties would get and the alliance that would form the government are yet to be opened for punters, the bookies have already started betting among themselves. Bookies across the country, from Tuesday, began betting on whether the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) or National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or Third Front would form the government at the Centre. They are also betting on the number of seats the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would get.
The bookies are betting for 140 to 160 seats for the Congress and 120 to 140 seats for the BJP. So far, bookies have put in Rs 1,200 crore within the community.
Insiders in the business said eight bookies from across the country have been given the task to open rates on various aspects of the elections. The ‘specialist’ bookies began surveying various states since the elections were announced. They are touring major cities and states like Delhi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Sources in the community said there are 25 main bookies in the country who would conduct the betting on a big level. Below them would be about 100 smaller bookies to run the show in various cities.
A Mumbai bookie said the rates would be opened once all the coalitions and number of seats on which each party would contest are announced.
“Then we would open the rates in three phases,” the bookie said, adding that the first phase would be on which alliance would form the government, second on the number of seats the major parties would get and the final on the prime ministerial candidate.
Politicians are not staying away from betting, with about 50 of them from across the country already pledging heavy amounts, the bookies added. Among these, 10 are from Maharashtra, including four big names from Mumbai.