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Indians Love to Gamble on IPL Matches, but Why?
Betfair is one of the world's biggest sports satta company (it no longer accepts Indian bettors directly on its website; at least not anymore).
It accepts wagers from registered punters who make their payments online using a credit card.
Additionally, Betfair is an industry pioneer in that its odds are established by the market, not by a particular bookmaker or consortium: the odds fluctuate in response to the amount gambled on or against a certain team or individual player.
Cricket tends to do far better than baseball, despite being a smaller sport with a relatively restricted geographical reach. For example, the Indian Premier League attracts wagers of up to INR 400 crore every match on a single online cricket satta platform.
What are the implications of these figures? To be quite candid, they tell us more about India than they do about the sport's essence.
Cricket and gambling are both popular in India. That is why cricket matches are so popular with bookmakers.
A significant fraction of a bookmaker's habitual bettors - those who wager only on cricket matches and are inactive on other sports such as rugby, tennis, golf, or poker - are either Indian or have a connection to India.
In India, satta is prohibited, and Indian credit cards are not accepted on satta websites. To use them, an Indian gambler must first get a bank account or a credit card issued outside of India from a friend or relative.
Alternatively, he must have legal status in another nation (as a foreign exchange earner or a non-resident Indian). This is not a straightforward procedure.
Contacting a bookie in your neighbourhood, on the other hand, is substantially simpler. Secure client networks are used by Indian bookies.
Even if they deceive the taxman, the bulk of them are honest in that they do not misrepresent the odds given and ensure payments are made on time.
If another customer refers a prospective punter to a bookie, he is permitted to join the circle and must obey the rules.
When a cricket match is happening, all that is required is a phone call to the bookie.
The bookie's phone number changes regularly, but he always keeps his clients informed. When the customer is summoned, he is given two figures and two options: Lagana and Khana.
This exercise in decision-making also serves as a litmus test for the bookie's business ethics. Assume India is facing Australia in an ODI and you want to place a wager on Australia.
The bookmaker provides you with the "lagana" (putting) odds. To demonstrate that he is not being unjust and offering you inaccurate odds, he offers you three options: "khana" (eating), the odds on satta against Australia, and the odds on satta against India.
In this fashion, you can either endorse a squad or 'eat' a team, a seasoned punter explained to Cricketing.Bet investigative reporter.
Here are few types of bet slips that most Indian bettors open at online bookies
Winner of the match: This is most likely the most popular of all cricket
satta markets, and it is where most bettors will begin.
Best Batsman: We want to support the player who we believe will score the most runs for his or her team.
Man of the Match: Because there are so many competitors, the odds in Man of the Match satta are quite lengthy compared to others, and we may earn some substantial gains if we make the right pick.
Winner of the Toss: Before each match, the two captains will flip a coin to determine who bats first and who takes the field.
Winner of the Series: A series winner bet is a cricket bet that allows you to wager on the side you believe will win the most games and take home the trophy.
To get a century: The bookmakers will list several hitters from each club, and the bettor's duty will be to predict whether or not they will score a century.
Wicket Taker: This type of cricket satta operates similarly to that of the top batsman. We're looking for the bowler who we believe will take the most wickets in an innings.
First Wicket: So, the objective at hand is to predict whether the first batter will be out via Bowled, Caught, LBW, Run Out, or another technique.
Boundaries: This is one of the most popular cricket bets for experienced gamblers who enjoy analysing the numerous data associated with the game.
Draw: This is a cricket bet in test and first-class matches where a draw is feasible.
Similarly, there are many other forms of cricket bets available for gambling lovers. Over or Under is just another example.
What is the size of the bookie-by-phone market?
If an IPL match earns an internet bookie roughly INR 400 crore every match, it's reasonable to believe that the unofficial, cash-only satta business is substantially larger. "I would estimate it to be 20-25 times as large," a satta analyst told Cricketing.Bet, "perhaps even 50 times."
Online satta was not always this sophisticated or prevalent; odds were not always as clear, and profit margins were smaller.
Nevertheless, the most of the previous section was correct 10 years ago. Cricket-related gambling and fixing remained under the hands of a clandestine network of Indian (or South Asian) bookies and their code-language-enabled mobile phones.
What, then, has changed in the recent decade? To begin, the IPL has captured the attention of not just cricket fans and advertisers, but also the satta industry.
During the Indian summer, one single event attracts a disproportionate quantity of wagering money. When paired with the fact that the Twenty20 format is so vulnerable to a match being won by a single bad over or a batsman failing at a vital moment, the IPL becomes a prospective target for the fixing mafia.
These criticisms have been made elsewhere. The Anti-Corruption Unit of the International Criminal Court has made a statement on the situation.
When the two additional IPL franchises were auctioned, BCCI officials expressed concern that if a franchise was won by a small-time bidder promising an unrealistic licencing fee and lacking the backing of a clearly wealthy business house or billionaire, the individual franchise would be vulnerable to manipulation by the satta mafia.
This issue was raised in relation to at least one bidder who looked to have some questionable business links.
Methods of correcting - or attempting to fix, given the small number of proven fixes - have also advanced.
A five-day Test match is five days in duration. A significant number of players, including at least one of the captains, may have to be compromised in order to forecast the result.
Twenty20 cricket is a significantly compressed version of the game. In this instance, a dishonest bookmaker only needs to fix one or two players.
What is the protocol in this instance? Assume a team is 45-2 and attempting to score 150 points.
A rejuvenated batsman joins the game and is expected to save his team.
As he approaches the crease, the odds are barely in his team's favour. If he falls short and finishes in the single digits, the odds substantially change.
What if a dishonest bookmaker correctly forecasts this cricketer's demise? What if he placed a wager based on the odds available at the time the batter entered the game and is now waiting for him to fail and the odds to fall?"
It's kind of like the stock market," one punter says. "At 2 p.m., you agree to sell a scrip for Rs 20. However, you do not have the stock.
You're aware that a major news is imminent, which will cause the stock to fall to Rs 18 at 4 p.m., and you intend to purchase then.
So you promise to sell for Rs 20 but wait till Rs 18 to purchase."
The introduction of market-determined odds, as well as the capacity of certain websites to allow the punter to select his odds or "purchase" or "sell" his wager on a team at differential odds (and so profit), have made such circumstances possible.
Such characteristics set the circumstances for "spot fixing": instructing a single player to do anything, such as go out or bowl three consecutive loose balls that concede boundaries, that drastically impacts the immediate odds but does not necessarily determine the eventual result.
Is this anything that has happened in the IPL? To be honest, despite rumours, hearsay, and fears, there is no actual evidence.
Nonetheless, this is a possible issue that Twenty20 leagues must be aware of.
Will legalising gambling in India put an end to the fixing scourge once and for all? Would bringing in Betfair as an IPL partner be a smart idea?
The answer is perplexing. Legalized gambling may seem self-evident in a nation where people stake on anything from cricket matches to the amount of rain expected in a given day.
It would produce revenue for the government through service and income taxes.
Those in control of large-scale satta operations are unlikely to attempt to bribe participants in order to corrupt sport.
A Betfair or a Ladbrokes is a legal business, not a shady cartel. The good news is that India's cricket body is treating the matter seriously.
They want cricket satta businesses to be legally permitted to operate in India. Betway is a perfect example of this, since they were the primary sponsor of the IPL.
Additional satta businesses, such as Dafabet, 1xBet, and Betwinner, are entering the fray to make cricket satta legal for everyone.
This piece is a reworking of Ashok Malik's essay, which was first published on ESPNcricinfo on 15th July 2010.
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