d) Dimensions of betting:
Betting on cricket is today, in terms of monetary turnover and volume of transaction, perhaps the biggest organized racket in the country. According to rough estimates, the turnover for a one day match in any part of the world which is being telecast in India is to the tune of hundreds of crores. A primary reason for the growth of this racket is the relatively liberal provisions of the Public Gambling Act.
The ingredients and punishments under this Act differ from State to State. Even as it is debatable whether betting on cricket attracts provisions of this Act, since cricket theoretically is a game of skill, the maximum punishment under this Act. For example in Delhi, for a first offence is imprisonment for six months and a fine of Rs 1000 and for subsequent offences, a maxmimum punishment of imprisonment of one year and a fine of Rs 2000. Hence, for a bookie or punter dealing in crores of rupees, the provisions of this Act are no major cause of worry.
During the inquiry, it was also learnt that the lure of easy money has gradually attracted the underworld into this racket. It seems that it is only a matter of time before major organized gangs take direct control of this racket, a phenomenon that will have implications not only for cricket but for national security as a whole.
Betting on cricket, having emerged as a major organized racket, it makes sound common sense for both bookies and punters to manipulate results according to their financial interests. For example, if a bookie wants to fix a favourite team to lose, he would naturally rake in a huge amount of money at the cost of punters who generally place bets on the favourite team. A punter can also fix a team according to his financial interests and place heavy bets with a number of bookies which would result in major gains for him.
Our enquiry has disclosed that results of cricket matches are manipulated or attempted to be manipulated by both the bookies as well as punters. Apart from fixing matches, performance fixing of individual players can also help the betting syndicate in spread betting. Specific details of this aspect will be discussed later.
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