Matka bookies now have competition in Goa.
Online gambling appears to have emerged as the latest illegal avenue to gamblers keen on trying their luck with numbers, considering the series of raids conducted by police agencies on such underground operations.
The spate of raids conducted by officials of the Crime Branch and police stations in the urban hubs like Mapusa, Vasco, Margao and Panaji, only goes to show how the illegal online gambling fervour has swept through populated pockets of Goa.
There are several key elements which differentiate illicit matka operations and the new online gambling hubs, beginning with the kind of investment which is required to set up an operation for the latter.
While matka bookies operate on a shoe-string budget, wielding only a pen, matka receipt book, a sheet of carbon paper and a small cubby hole to set up shop, an online gambling operation needs more of an investment, according to a police official, who was a part of the recent raids on such dens.
"The operators purchase some apps for gaming and invest in some computers. They make money after investing this kind of money," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Matka bookies are largely local residents, while online gambling dens are controlled by non-Goan operators, the official also said.
The other differentiator is that while a matka bookie cares little about exposure in public, online gambling operations are tucked away from the public eye.
While matka can be played with modest sums of money, even a few rupees at a time, when it comes to online gambling, making your bets involves a minimum sum.
"There is no (upper) limit as such, but you have to buy some minimum ticket amount to play. After the initial sum, you can keep spending more as you play," the official also said.
He further said that addicted gamblers, migrant labourers, contractors and even vulnerable students, bitten by the gambling bug are frequent patrons of such online gambling dens.
And while matka betting payouts occur twice a day, online gambling sprees can run all day long as long as you have the money to shell out.
Matka gambling gives the prizes to the gambler twice a day so there are less chances of addiction and loss to the player. In business it is more casino gambling and no hospitality in it unlike official onshore and offshore casinos.
The interest in online gambling is evident with the number of cases booked by the police in recent times.
In June 2020 in a raid at Taleigao, eight persons were arrested with cash amounting to Rs 6.40 lakh being seized in May 2021. The Margao police also raided a gambling den around then, arresting one person and seizing Rs 80,000.
In January 2022, three persons were arrested in Porvorim with a seizure of Rs. 25 lakh, while on April 18, 2022, 11 persons were arrested with a cash of Rs 27 lakh. On May 3 and May 6 in two different raids in Margao, a total of 10 persons were arrested with cash of over Rs 3 lakh.
According to sources, there are more than four to five places in every town in Goa where illegal online gaming operations are being run. Populated coastal areas are also favoured by online gambling operators.
With the demand for illegal online gambling avenues increasing social activists like Kashinath Shetye have been demanding a strict crackdown on such operations, which he claims have also added a slide of prostitution as an allied thrill.
“Illegal online gambling and prostitution is going on in some casino dens. Please raid them,” Shetye has demanded.
This news is reported by The Goan. To read more GOA news visit The Goan.