While many gamers are impatiently anticipating the return of local and international sports, Delhi’s illicit betting circles have taken matters into their own hands, with punters betting on pandemic-related statistical forecasts.
COVID-19 betting has risen in popularity among Indian customers looking to fill the vacuum created by the global sports industry shutdown, with bets now being made on the lockout dates and contours, outbreak levels and death tolls. Such bets are also made in syndicates operating unregulated betting markets, often known as the ‘satta bazaar’ by way of unexpected phone calls.
While the country allows lawful horse-racing betting, all other forms of public gambling are banned. Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava said force units on these illicit networks were keeping a watch.
“We do not know how the nature of betting has exactly changed after the pandemic, but the Delhi Police are showing no laxity in cracking down on any crime network. Our teams are monitoring all cyber operations to check for any illegal activity,” said Shrivastava.
Despite this, the Doha International Center for Sports Security estimates India ‘s illegal betting market at $150 billion annually, including $200 million bet per Indian cricket team’s One Day International Cricket match.
Under the nationwide shutdown that began on March 25, major gatherings were barred including financial, political , religious and sporting activities, as well as the much awaited Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament that was scheduled to begin on March 29.
Since IPL coincided with the first phase of lockdown, gamblers found the COVID-19 statistics to put their money on. Nonetheless, since these figures are reliable and easy to reach, many bookies have fixed minimum betting sums and require that all transfers be done in cash.