Gambling: BEHIND THE SCENES
In a bid to make a quick buck, gambling has been swiftly embraced. Nevertheless, these illegal rackets run by crooks ultimately destroy the poor who are unaware of its pitfalls, explores Abhay Singh.
"Easy money in less time" – a fraudulent dream which has been sold by gamblers to the needy, luring them to gamble and, ultimately, causing irreparable loss. With time, the betting racket has taken the shape of an organised business with the help of alphabets, applications and software. This story is an investigation into the illicit money-making trade propounded by gamblers.
Earlier, gamblers would maintain the details of gambling on paper. Whenever the police teams raided gambling dens, they would seize the registers and cash from the spot. Through the registers, cops were able to identify the gamblers and their associates. They also gathered details of the bets at stake. Betting slips were also used to place the bet – all these evidence assisted the police in their investigation causing enough trouble to gamblers. The predicted future, links with bookies and others connected with the racket could be easily tracked with the written material seized from the spot. Realising this loophole, gamblers shifted their focus to structurally organise the gambling racket. The first step was to opt for new technology and, then, they started misusing technology.
Police have found that the gamblers initially lured the working class with a ball game. The ringleader sat with glasses and a small ball, at any place in the city with a robust working-class population. After false assurances of steep earning, the gamblers challenged the labourers to pick the glass with the ball to win 100 rupees. The labourers were instantly attracted to making a quick buck.
With time, the gamblers begun creating groups on WhatsApp to communicate the bets and exchange money. The entry to such groups was restricted and all participants had prior contact with the gambling leaders who took every step to ensure that they weren't being spied upon. In most of the arrests, the accused were aged within the group of 25 to 50 years.
No one had anticipated that alphabets would be used for gambling. In May 2017, a racket using codes like P, K, L, N to contact other bookies and to dodge police investigation was located. P was used for promoting the team, for the opposite team K was designated, L was the money bet on the team and N was no bet. Master phones were used to contact the various bookies and the suspected kingpin. They were in regular contact with the other bookies in fixing the rate.
Tracing the Kingpin
In some cases, the police were lucky to arrest the kingpin; but, in some, the kingpin easily distanced himself from the clutches of the police. For instance, the online betting racket was organised in such a way that the identity of the kingpin remained elusive. If the police busted any network, they would gain access to several numbers of other bookies. Tracing down each number was an arduous task, often left unaccomplished.
Place of Play
Under construction buildings, parks, flats, houses, nearby roads or game parlours – gambling could be done anywhere. "The gamblers would choose any under-construction or abandoned building for their illegal gambling," said a police source. In the year 2017, a secret casino was located, running inside a farmhouse in South Delhi.
Raiding the Business
Gambling through cards depicting King and Queen is the oldest trick and does not require a massive place to be played, a shady corner in the park or an isolated street is sufficient. The patrolling team could easily arrest them, but the problem arose with busting online rackets. According to the police, it took a long time to track – one week or several months – and, sometimes, the raids failed; however, in the end, the racket was busted. In some cases where the gambling is conducted through closed WhatsApp groups, a policeman sometimes posed as a dummy player to enter the game and when the appropriate time arrived he would bust the racket.
In one case, Shahdara district police found that one of the accused would sit in the stadium and provide details to other bookies over the phone.
"More than 50 bookies would remain in contact with the person who was watching the live match in the stadium and, for the connection, one of the bookies used a phone router which connected all the bookies at the same time," said the senior police officer.
The police further claimed that in live matches, there is a slight time lag in what people see on TV. "The game which we see on TV is telecast a few minutes after the ball is bowled in the stadium and this helped the bookie as they already knew the result through the person sitting in the stadium," said the officer.
As the match progressed, the rates on various bets also changed. The final rate is fixed at the end of the match and, based on the final rate, the settlement amount is determined for each individual.
Betting Racket Software
As a new edition of the Indian Premier League is underway, the betting season has also commenced in the Capital. Gangs are now using polished software for maintaining the database of illegal money used for betting in the tournament. The revelations came to light after Delhi Police arrested three men from Shahdara.
An investigator told Millennium Post that the gang was employing a betting assistant software to maintain the records of the clients involved in the illegal business. "In this software, the accused would enter names of the people who were calling them to place the bets. The software maintained the records of the money trail of each person," said the investigator, adding that the software did not require heavy manpower and could be easily handled by one person.
Delhi Police investigation into a betting racket, which was busted in Shahdara district, has revealed that the criminal network has spread its tentacles well outside India.
"An account in the betting website is created by a person living outside India or in a country where betting is legal, and the website asks personal details. Once the account is created, the account details are then shared with a contact in India," said a senior police officer. He added that local associates of the overseas-based person then checked the rates on the website and fed it into the betting assistant software. The reason for making the racket more organised was to avoid getting caught by the police. If the police team raids the house from where the gambling is undertaken then they can easily delete the application or the account and the police will get nothing. The following racket was busted by ACP (Shahdara) Bharat Reddy.
In some cases, accused persons disclosed that they had obtained a user ID and password on a gaming site. After obtaining the username and password, they accessed the website and opened a gaming page there. Various rates are displayed in the form of BACK and LAY. After betting on these BACK and LAY, one earns or loses points. On further interrogation, the accused disclosed that with the help of their other associates they manipulated the winning points on the software so that the winning amount of their clients are minimised and their losses are maximised.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara) Nupur Prasad stated that they have undertaken action against gambling in the area and they have successfully busted several rackets. "In 2018, we have already arrested over 200 persons and registered more than 50 cases. The district has successfully recovered more than 13 lakh rupees," said the DCP.
Play stations for Gambling
Play stations for gambling have now become another modus operandi which is being developed by the gamblers. The following fact was revealed after Delhi Police busted an illegal gaming house and casino in East Delhi's Laxmi Nagar area on May 5. "The betting racket software was installed in the play station which was connected with the computer to run the gambling racket," said the police officer.
Delhi Police Data
In the last three years, Delhi Police have registered more than 2,500 cases under the Gambling Act and arrested over 9,000 people involved in the crime. Delhi Police data accessed by Millennium Post states that in 2016, around 1,098 cases were registered, whereas, last year, 1,273 cases were registered. This year, till March 31, the city witnessed more than 300 cases of gambling. The number of arrests, meanwhile, has increased with time. In 2016, as many as 3,872 persons were nabbed, while 5,398 accused were nabbed in 2017. More than 1,000 persons have been arrested for gambling so far in 2018.