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Punters in India bet Rs 500 crore on US elections

November 08, 2012 08:34 IST

Bookies in India have managed to cash in on US Presidential elections. Country's 'satta bazzar' or the illegal betting market witnessed a turnover of nearly Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) in a fortnight as betting on Obama and Romney reached a fever pitch, said bookies from Mumbai and Delhi.

Not surprisingly, Obama was the favorite but bets kept on pouring till last couple of hours of vote counting that was marked with a see-saw battle between the two candidates.

Bookies say, Punters were interested in betting as Obama was to be the only second Democrat to win a second term in White House since World War II. Also, he was elected four years ago on the plank of "real change" but had tough time answering questions on issues like unemployment and handling of worst recession since 1930s. More, opinion polls had given him only a slight advantage.

Odds on Romney rose to as high as Rs 20 against every Rupee and fell to as low as five paise on Obama. Bookies said they had pegged their odds to international market rates. References were drawn from top betting websites like PaddyPower, InTrade and UK's William Hill. Betting on elections is both legal and common in US and Europe but it is restricted to horse racing in India. Bookies say, punters with small amounts were mainly placing their bets on Romney as odds were high.

"At a point, bets on Romney saw a sharp rise when his electoral votes were around 180 and Obama's was stuck at 173. But that was till California was called."

Romney had a comfortable lead over Obama as state of Florida saw a tight race between the two with a slight edge for Obama. Florida has 29 electoral votes and California 55. At the end, Romney was projected as having secured 201 votes in an electoral college of 535 votes. The winner has to garner at least 270 votes and Obama got 303.

Bookies say, they try to create odds inducing even money on both sides to reduce their exposure. But it is a balancing act and they are not often successful. Odds on Obama a couple of weeks ago were at 45 paise against every rupee bet and Rs 2 on Romney.

Palak Shah in Mumbai