Defending Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Mumbai Indians are the favourite of bookies and are currently priced at Rs 4.90, followed by Hyderabad SunRisers at Rs 5.60, according to bookies based in and around the city.
The IPL is set to begin on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And the Gurugram police have given necessary directions to its Intelligence Wing, crime branch units, and the station house officers (SHOs) of the district to keep an eye on syndicates who run illicit betting rackets and start gathering information about such offenders.
On the other hand, bookies have clearly started ‘work’ away from the prying eyes of the police. Looking at the Mumbai Indians’ past performance, they have picked Rohit Sharma’s team as their top favourite.
“The Mumbai Indians are currently priced at Rs 4.90 in the IPL. They are followed by SunRisers Hyderabad at Rs 5.60, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at Rs 5, Royal Challengers Bangalore at Rs 6.20, Delhi Capitals at Rs 6.40, Kolkata Knight Riders at Rs 7.80, Kings XI Punjab at Rs 9.50, and Rajasthan Royals at Rs 10,” said a bookie on the condition of anonymity.
“This means the team that has the lowest price is considered a strong contender for victory. If someone bets Rs 1,000 that the Mumbai Indians would win the IPL, they will get Rs 4,900. Match rates may go up and down,” he explained.
The bookie explained the importance of IPL for them. “IPL is a major event for us and our clients, and its cancellation was a big hit. Many arrange for money to bet on these matches from different sources, so that they can repay debts or pump this money into their businesses,” he said.
Metropolitan cities and smaller towns like Gurugram have become big hubs of cricket betting. The IPL season is one phase when crores of rupees are traded on matches. But the police are set to tighten the noose around punters.
According to sources, several bookies, including Agra’s prominent bookie Shyam Vohra and his son Vatsal Vohra, have taken shelter in Gurugram due to police strictness in Delhi and Noida.
An Information Bureau (IB) official on the condition of anonymity said that “bookie Shyam Vohra has a network in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The father-son duo is hiding in the city to run illicit network of betting rackets during IPL. Apart from this, bookies of many states could be staying on the outskirts of the city. There is a possibility of betting around Rs 40 crore on the IPL matches.”
On the basis of these inputs, the Gurugram Police are on high alert and have asked the police in-charge of the Intelligence Unit to increase surveillance in their areas.
According to official data, a total of 148 cases of Gambling Act have been registered and around 235 people have been arrested in this year till now. In the previous year, around 446 cases were registered and 700 people were arrested under the Gambling Act.
Nitika Gahlaut, DCP (Headquarters), Gurugram Police, said that even though cops were busy because of the Covid-19 pandemic, units of the force were keeping a close watch on such illegal networks and activities.
“We have alerted our force to keep an eye on syndicates who run illicit betting rackets. Our teams are monitoring all cyber operations to check for illegal activities, if any. Also, necessary directions have been passed to all police units to prevent gathering more people at a place,” said the DCP, adding strict action would be initiated against those caught indulging in anti-social activities.
A crime branch official, who did not wish to be named, said that the police generally rely on information collected from a network of sources to nail bookies because it is difficult to monitor their operations.
“They [bookies] have very discreet ways of operating, so it is difficult to regularly monitor them. They have adopted many tactics to evade police raid or arrest. Therefore, the police mostly depend on the tip offs they get from their sources or informants and then go back and forward to crack a chain of bookies,” he said.
The DCP said that along with the police patrolling teams have been instructed to cross check and search the secluded places, buildings/premises, hotels, restaurants, farmhouses, guest houses, PG accommodations, and recently rented-out flats as the bookies usually sit at these places after work and engages in betting.
Meanwhile, sources said that many gamblers were eagerly waiting for the IPL to begin. The IPL was to originally begin from March 29, but its postponement due to Covid pandemic came as a jolt to them. Now, they are set to re-start their ‘business’.