Milk peda and betting, that’s what Hansi town, 26 km from Hisar, is known for. There are a number of peda shops in the town and the preparations get sold out by the evening.
The same cannot be said of Chopta Bazaar, the nerve centre of unlawful gaming activity where satta (betting) never runs out of stock. And the 2014 Lok Sabha polls have probably eclipsed even the Twenty-20 World Cup in popularity as far as the satta market is concerned. “It is a perennial passion in Hansi. People just need a reason to lay bets,” says a cotton trader.
With five days to go for polling in Haryana, the satta bazaar is abuzz with rates fluctuating every other day.
HERE ARE POLL BETS
“Bets have primarily been placed on the win or loss of candidates from Hisar, BhiwaniMahendergarh, Sirsa, Gurgaon and Kurukshetra Lok Sabha constituencies,” says a trader who invested over Rs 50 lakh.
A bookie involved in the satta told HT that the two leading candidates in Hisar Lok Sabha constituency had a bhao (betting rate) of 85 paise each on Saturday. The rate for the third candidate is pegged at Rs 5 in the satta market.
“Similarly, the top two contenders in Bhiwani-Mahendergarh seat have an identical bhao of 80 paise each. The number one candidate in Sirsa has a bhao of 29 paise, a dip of 41 paise since Thursday. In Gurgaon, the bhao of number one candidate is pegged at 23 paise, a drop of 2 paise since Thursday,” the bookie said.
Similarly, the market commands a rate of 65-85 paise for two political parties winning two seats each. In one particular Lok Sabha seat abutting the national capital, bhao is only on the margin of win.
WHAT IS BHAO?
The bhao (betting rate) is fixed by bookies in Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur on the basis of surveys and assessment of the ground situation. Bets are for or against a particular thing to happen or not to happen. For instance, a bet could be on whether India would beat Sri Lanka on Sunday to lift the T-20 World Cup or not.
Lesser the betting bhao, the higher the odds are of win - cricket match or Lok Sabha poll. The satta bazaar has its own vocabulary – putting money on one’s win is known as lagana and betting on one’s loss is called khana. Bookies get 2% commission on the money placed on every bet. The rates are broadcast twice a day.
IS IT A TRUE BAROMETER?
Bookies and satta players say the market by and large reflects the true ground situation but often falters. “The market suffered huge reverses when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 28 seats in the Delhi assembly polls. Money was put on AAP not getting more than 8-10 seats,” a bookie says. Players say that at times political parties resort to market manipulation by pumping in big money to brighten their forecast.
There is a belief that in the latter part of poll campaigning, it is the satta rate and not the actual ground situation that influences the outcome in a close contest.
Police officials who often launch a crackdown on the illegal activity say it is an irrational activity. “It is a huge money spinner but quite absurd at times,” says a senior official.
HOW SATTA WORKS
If one places a bet on the win of a particular candidate - say number one or two in Hisar, on Saturday and that candidate eventually wins, the player would get Rs 80,000 on every lakh invested. However, if the candidate loses the election, the player would have to pay Rs 1 lakh to the bookie.
No initial amount exchanges hands. The bets are all abstract. But no one dares refuse to pay if one loses.
The bookies take bets on the phone only and keep a record of the conversation to avoid any controversy.
One needs an introducer, a player or a bookie for getting initiated in the satta market.