Representational Pic
Representational Pic

Mumbai: With the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) tightening the screws on match and spot-fixing in Indian cricket, bookies are now targetting small-time players of this ‘gentleman’s game’.

And, the recent outcome of the Karnataka Premier League, wherein some players and the owner of a team were arrested, has rekindled the corruption in Indian cricket. Six Karnataka players, who had moved over to the dark side of the game, were arrested, defamed and blacklisted.

To get an insider’s view on the whole operation of match and spot-fixing, FPJ spoke to a bookie, Sreenath Gauda (name changed). According to him, it is not an overnight work, but several months' worth of leg work in getting information on the players.

Many bookies are known for their mischievous ways of approaching players, who have fallen prey to their various forms of lure. Many players of the recent times are not that good at the game and are playing at the lower berth in the Indian cricket, with some starring at an end, it is these players who are easy for the bookies to hook.

The money offered is not that big, but the number of players involved are. Sometimes, bookies zero in on player/players a few months before a tournament.

Booking rooms in the same hotel as the players, watching them closely and making notes about their lifestyle is the modus operandi for many bookies.

They also track their social media accounts to understand the players lifestyle, their likes and dislikes.And after selecting their target, they entice them with expensive gifts or women — the latter being the most exploited by bookies, who introduce their target to a woman,Most of these players come from poor financial background.

And, these bookies often introduce themselves as cricket agents and make fake promises like sponsorship, TV interviews and advertisements. Asked if this could be curbed if betting is made legal, the bookie believes that even if it made legal, illegal betting would be much bigger than legal.“Nobody wants to pay 18% or 28% tax,” he says while emphasising on the permanency of illegal betting.

In India, betting only in horse racing is legal. However, there are calls from several quarters to make betting in sports legal.The 276th report of the Law Commission of India presented last year suggested that it be made legal, but the final decision rests with people stationed in our parliament.“Legalising sports betting is a good thing... but I do not think it will stop corruption in cricket,” the bookie concludes.

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