After dark parties, aspiring models and actresses, and cricketers who look for quick money, makes Mumbai a dream location for bookmakers to spin their roulette. And with the influx of spot-fixing, the bookies went for the kill when the T20 league commenced in the country, said police officials.
Mumbai always lead the racket, across the cricketing world, because the odds on which bets are played in any match were determined by bookies based in the city. The CBI, in its investigation into the match fixing scandal in 2000, had named Mumbai as the base around all betting operations.
The primary base
“Mumbai continues to be the base primarily because of the well-established network that D-Company enjoys in the city. Also, those bookies under the control of D-Company in Mumbai have been in the betting market since mid 80’s. It is these bookies who determine the odds,” said a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
Also, it is from Mumbai where ‘lines’ — channels of specific bookie for placing bets — are distributed to Pakistan, Dubai or elsewhere. Mumbai police’s recent arrest of Ramesh Vyas has once again ascertained the control of Mumbai syndicate. Vyas was the person who distributed ‘lines’ to punters across the country, and to bookies in Pakistan, said police sources.
Shobhan Mehta alias Shobhan Kalachowkie, Virendra Borivali, Anil Steel, Laxmi Thana, Hitesh, Jayant Malad, Kothari, Jaya, Mahadev, Shanti, Kamadi are some names who have graced the dubious syndicate.
Shobhan Kalachowkie started as a small punter in 1985 before he became a full-fledged bookie in 1988. His betting designs not only took him to Bombay, Jaipur, Madras, Calcutta and Delhi, but also to UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand, said police sources.
Virendra Borivali, police officials said, was a close confidante of Sharad Shetty — the Dawood henchman who controlled the betting syndicate, and with Shobhan would be the key to unravel the current betting nexus.
In the wanted list
Later entrants like Hiren alias Jupiter and Junior Kolkatta in Mumbai too have created substantial influence. Junior Kolkatta and Jupiter both are in the wanted list of Delhi and Mumbai police. A bookie who operates under the pseudo name of Arif, said, “It is not easy to approach a cricketer and ask him to fix a match or ball a no-ball. It is a slow and tedious game where the likes and dislikes, passion, and weakness of a cricketer is carefully analysed.”
The bookies mostly remain undercover, but ensure that the cricketer is supplied with all that he wishes for. “It can start from small gifts, to drugs to supplying women. It is a web, where once entangled, is tough to come out,” added Arif.