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Monday, Oct 25, 2021
Outlook.com

For Bettor Or Worse

The horses are no longer a good bet. The big money has moved to cricket. Only, the law is a hurdle.

For Bettor Or Worse
For Bettor Or Worse
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The prodigals of Mumbai’s racecourse have a simple philosophy: you have to be an ass to bet on a horse. The tax is high, the mood is not. The sun too can be cruel on a racing day. Even the event is rigged - horses are sedated to throw a race. In brief, that still shamelessly imperial place, The Royal Western India Turf Club, offers very little to a punter today. The degrees might vary, but it’s a story repeated all over the country.

Meanwhile, betting on cricket is somewhat different. It’s not legal. No tax. No sun. A phone will do. A man with a scar will come home to collect the money and later return to hand over the booty. Mobiles ensure that a bookie is untraceable. The ‘trade’ is said to be more organised than anywhere else in the world. That’s why, according to a conservative estimate, on a match day, about Rs 1,000 crore changes hands in Mumbai alone. On a racing day at the race-course, that figure is a mere crore. On a Derby day, it may touch Rs 2 crore.

Not surprisingly, attendance at the Turf club has gone down by 40 per cent over the years. Today, hardly 6,000 people turn up on a racing day. That’s why traditional punters have decided to put their money on cricket. Even the bookmakers have got the drift. From over 50 bookies sometime ago, the figure is now 37. The overheads are high for a bookie at the racecourse, he has to pay Rs 12,000 as stall fee and Rs 3,000 in salaries on a racing day. On a good day, he may make Rs 10 lakh, but for any of the big cricket bookies a good day means profits up to Rs 50 lakh. And theoretically, for the bookies even the chances of losing money in cricket are less than in racing. And then a cricket bookie has no overheads apart from embarrassingly modest mobile bills. And some of them don’t like paying even those. Says Ram Dandekar, head of the bookmakers at the Turf club,...

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