Entertainment and ‘fatafat’ money amid ‘Covid slowdown’Updated: Sep 25, 2020, 17:43 IST
For businessman Rahul Agarwal (name changed), the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) has come as a big boost to his confidence and his finances, as he has been betting a handsome amount on the matches every day, and winning most of the time.
After the 13th edition of the league started in the UAE last Saturday, his family has been enjoying the entertainment in the shortest format of cricket at a time when the world is going through a bad phase due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Agarwal’s bet of Rs 2,000 on the first match between the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians (MI) fetched him Rs 6,000 as the odds were not high for the favourites and three-time champions CSK in the opening encounter. Agarwal has no plans to bet on all the matches, but the entire family plans to watch all the matches without any interruption.
“As I have my business outlet and house together at one place, I close my shop at 7pm and by the time the match starts, I am settled on the couch to watch the proceedings till the end. In fact, IPL has given the much needed entertainment to me and my family of five, including my 70-year-old father,” said Agarwal.
How things start for him on the betting front everyday is quite interesting. His favourite betting sites ‘Guru Nine’ and ‘Betway’ have unique systems of collecting and paying back the money only to ‘well-known’ clients.
“I call on a certain number and put my money. The person on the other side of the phone only says yes or no and we hardly talk for 10-15 seconds. The next morning of the match, either I pay my dues or get my winning purse as per the rate by a pre-designated messenger.”
Agarwal said he gets a new phone number every time he bets. “If you dial on the same number the next day, it won’t exist. Moreover, no new person is allowed to make it to the betting circle unless you are being introduced by someone known to the people running the show. One has to take your guarantee as no one believes in your paying capacity or your loyalty,” added Agarwal, who runs his big outlet in the heart of the state capital.
Agarwal isn’t the only one, who is betting on IPL games. There are many across the state who are making a fast buck. In Prayagraj, one of the ‘priests’ in Gaughat area has been known for his betting operations for many years. He is happy that business this time has grown manifold.
“I have been managing the show in Prayagraj for many years, but this time the number of betters is phenomenal. Its only because of corona I believe that people are fed up of this crisis situation and looking for an option of entertainment as well as some extra income as businesses are sluggish,” said one ‘Mishra Ji’.
“I don’t entertain unknown people as there is always a chance of catching police’s attention. This time, I have added 50-6 new people on my list of 150-odd regulars. I get a good cut for my efforts as I own the responsibility of collecting and paying money to the betters here,” he added.
“This year, the IPL is happening at such a place, which is notorious in terms of fixing and betting. We should legalise betting in India too,” said Kanpur’s Shakeel (name changed), who had been a tennis ball cricketer in the past.
Meanwhile, the UP police are tracking down betting rackets. “The activities of such people are being monitored at the district level. Our special units are also vigilant in the state,” said Jyoti Narayan, inspector general (law and order), UP police.
A police team recently busted a betting racket in Kanpur and arrested six people. The accused ran the betting operations through various social media applications. “Our social media team also keeps a tab on suspicious activities through online platforms. If such activities are noticed, the teams alert the other police units for required action,” said the officer.
According to police sources, the more these bettors use technology in a limited group, the more difficult it gets for the police to nab them.
“Social media apps and other technology have allowed bettors to run operations in a small closed group. The monetary transactions in these cases are done via digital medium with limited or absolutely no physical interaction,” they said.