How Often are Races Fixed?

They are interested in everything from Bollywood to cricket to the stock market to the racecourses. If someone sneezes at a particular time, they make money on that. Of course, if said someone doesn’t sneeze, they still make money. We got talking to a bookie and asked him all the questions that you sent us. We added a few of our own

Published: Aug 28, 2009 12:00:00 PM IST
Updated: Aug 31, 2009 01:45:51 PM IST

Where are you right now?
(Laughs). Only my family knows where I am. There is too much heat on us [the bookie community] right now because of The Ashes. I will lie low for a couple of weeks until it cools off.

What was the kind of betting on the last match of The Ashes?
I got bets worth Rs. 7 lakh. But that’s just one person. There are quite a few of us around the country. 

Image: Vidyanand Kamat
How do you know who is available and who is not to throw the match?
You don’t know. Unless you have yourself fixed up with a player, you can’t believe anything.

Is it true that Sachin Tendulkar never threw a match?
Why can’t people get over that man! Yeah, he never threw a match. But it was always exciting to bet when he was batting. You never knew how the match would go until he got out.

How to spot a genuine bookie from a cheat?
Only an idiot will get sucked in by a cheat. We don’t advertise ourselves, so you can contact us only through connections. If you go out and search for a bookie, there are plenty of con artists.

What are the worst/most interesting topics you’ve seen people betting on?
People bet on anything here: The rains, a lot of cricket, films and the stock market also. Recently, I have got a few bets for the court case between the Ambani brothers. In cricket, people bet on whether a player will leave the second ball of the 24th over.

How often are races fixed?
Not that often. Again it’s the same thing as fixing up with a player. If you haven’t done it, don’t believe it.

How did you enter the business?
I used to punt as a youngster. And I knew there is big money in the business. One of the bookies I used to punt with couldn’t handle it all alone. He asked me if I was interested and I joined him. I branched out on my own after he retired. That was around five years back.

Have you ever had to rough someone up for not paying?
People usually pay up. We give them some leeway if they owe too much. If they are regulars, they can even make part payments. Very rarely do we have to put pressure on them.

How much do you have to pay politicians and cops to stay off your trail?
Not enough. If we paid them what they wanted, I wouldn’t be hiding (laughs).

(As told to Abhishek Raghunath)

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(This story appears in the 11 September, 2009 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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