The India Premier League (IPL) will start on March 31 and bookies and match-fixers are getting ready to make a killing.
Some of the major bookies identified by police include Manoj Metro, Vishal Chembur, Shrayansh, Yogi Thana, Shehnaz Ghatkopar, Mehul CP Tank, Dhaval Lalbaugh, Sonu Jalan, Pravin Bhera, Laxmichand Thana, Mahadev, Ketan A to Z, Justin Goregaon and Nikunj, and they all have 30 agents accepting bets online to evade surveillance.
Some of the popular online betting sites and mobile apps monitored by the police and intelligence agencies are Bet Bhai Book, Bet Exchange, Matrix, Diamond and Bet999. All of them offer 24x7 services on WhatsApp.
Most betting websites and apps are illegal in Europe and the US. They entered India by circumventing rules in violation of local banking laws.
“No specific law bans online betting and offshore companies take advantage of this loophole. The IT Act 2000 regulates cyber activities in India but does not mention the word ‘gambling’ or ‘betting’. Therefore the Act was left for interpretation by the courts,” advocate Bharat Mirchandani said.
According to a report by the International Centre for Sports Security, the betting market in India is worth more than $130 billion.
“Match fixing is a threat to sport and the advent of online gambling has increased the risk of match-fixing by cartels with links to Dubai and Pakistan. The scale of the gambling industry is attractive to organised crime with the range on types of bets possible online,” a cricket administrator said.
Lawyer Rajesh Vanzara said the laws governing betting sites are still ambiguous, and online gambling or betting is still permissible.
“The legislation is yet to draft laws against online betting as there is no explicit legislation with respect to that. Although online betting on IPL is a game of chance, there is no explicit prohibition stated,” Vanzara said.
The Federal Exchange Administration Act makes it illegal to swap the Indian rupee for a different currency outside a currency exchange or bank. So local bookies arrange dummy accounts to allow Indian currency as a wagering payment option or popular cricket betting sites holding licences abroad to avoid legal action. It ensures that punters do not violate the Foreign Exchange Management Act by insisting on payments in Indian currencies.
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