Betting in cricket will be dealt with severely ahead of the World Cup, which begins in Australia and New Zealand next month. The state home department has issued instructions to the police across the state, especially the Mumbai unit, to get cracking because the city has the most bookies.

Pic for representation
Pic for representation

According to in-house reports based on which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has initiated preventive action, youth in both rural and urban areas have taken to betting big time. “The bookies in semi-urban areas have shifted to Mumbai for getting easy access to the inner circle of the booming market.

Small bookies continue to take bets from the punters in semi-urban and rural areas,” said a senior official in Mantralaya. Fadnavis, who also heads home department, told mid-day, “I am aware of the problem that many families face because of increasing involvement of their bread-winners and also unemployed youth in betting.”

“I have asked all police commissioners and district police chiefs to deal with the bookies in the strictest possible manner. This social menace has to be curtailed, or else more and more families will get affected,” said Fadnavis. The home department officials said the biggest challenge at hand was dealing effectively with bookies in Mumbai, who work in a tightly knit loop or entirely independently of each other.

“These bookies get a dedicated stream of punters who come through proper referrals. Trust counts most in this business, and fortunately our police officers have been successful in snooping on these bookies frequently. We expect our police department to do much better this time,” a senior police officer said.

According to a police official, who refused to part with the details of the plan, the first and foremost thing will be to detain bookies they know. “Once we get them, we know the chain,” he said, requesting anonymity. According to him, the bookies resort to changing places of operations or go mobile for doing their business. “We need to get them before they go underground,” he added.

Another police officer put a conservative estimate of business per match, especially the limited overs game, at Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 crore across the country, with major stakes coming from places like Mumbai, and cities in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The bookies have a minimum limit set for punters, who may place then raise the stakes as high as they wish.

Bets are taken for the match result, a segment of a particular number of overs or anything else that challenges punters’ imagination and calculations. Match-fixing involving players and team managements have also come to the fore, and is being investigated at many levels of law enforcing agencies in the country and abroad.