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India bets big on football

A lowly 133 on the FIFA world soccer rankings, India may never qualify for the World Cup but we’re no slouches when it comes to betting on the matches, reports Vijaita Singh.

sports Updated: Jun 19, 2010 01:17 IST
Vijaita Singh

A lowly 133 on the FIFA world soccer rankings, India may never qualify for the World Cup but we’re no slouches when it comes to betting on the matches.

Bookies operating illegal betting rackets in the Capital are taking bets worth “more than Rs 1,000 crore” for each match, a source revealed.

While it’s impossible to get official numbers, these numbers suggest that the betting on World Cup matches is 20 times that for cricket matches.

That’s saying a lot for a cricket nation.

And the betting isn’t just a local phenomenon. Indians are betting big on the international scene too and using plastic for it — international credit cards that allow payments to be made legally and without any fuss.

“The betting market for cricket is mostly restricted to Asian countries but for football it is global. There is no comparison,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

Investigators also claimed that a sizeable portion of the transactions are taking place through hawala channels (illegal transfer of money done manually).

Police said they were keeping a close watch on the ‘betting syndicates’ involved and promised a crackdown.

“Presently, the bookies’ favourites are Brazil and Argentina,” said the officer.