As the Indian Premier League 2020 kickstarted on 19th September, it is expected that the Anti-Corruption & Security Unit (ACSU) of the Board For Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) will have higher illegal betting and match-fixing to worry about this season.
BCCI has done away with integrity officers attached with each IPL team this season, as per a report in Mumbai Mirror. Last year, the BCCI also parted with the Anti-corruption unit of International Cricket Council that monitor IPL games, due to heavy costs involved, and will engage with the local Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to supervise the security of IPL 2020 games. All this is music to the ears of bookies and punters in India.
As per a report in SportsKeeda, BCCI has decided to use advanced data analytics through Sportradar to detect spot-fixing in IPL 2020, safeguarding the tournament’s integrity.
Last year, a game between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings got bets of Rs. 695 crore on UK-sanctioned betting websites. Often, betting and match-fixing are intertwined, affecting the integrity of the game.
The betting industry in India came to a halt with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bookkeepers and punters in India have had much reason to celebrate since August 4, when the Indian Premier League Governing Council confirmed that IPL 2020 would be held in Dubai from September 19.
As per the Newsclick report, a bookkeeper said, ‘“IPL ki khabar sun ke bada sakoon hua. Hamara dhanda jo thaap pada hua tha, phir se chalu ho jayega. Hamey bhi apna aur ladko ka pet palna hai (It’s a big relief to hear the news of the IPL. Our business, which had come to a standstill, will start again. After all, we also have to feed our families and look after the boys who work for us).”
“This year, the freeze on live sports due to the pandemic has created a lot of pent up demand for betting. Despite the economic slowdown, we expect an explosion in betting. We feel that the monies involved in the 2020 IPL will be significantly more than last year,” he added.
Neeraj Kumar, the former Commissioner of Delhi Police and an advisor to ACSU with BCCI, says that Dubai is a safe haven for the kingpins of match-fixing, and hence BCCI will need to exercise greater vigilance in IPL 2020 to prevent players being “approached” by such match fixers.
Neeraj was one of leading officers who busted the 2013 IPL match-fixing scandal that led to the arrest of S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankit Chavan of Rajasthan Royals.
“I feel that the proportionality of attempts at fixing will be quite high because the stakes involved this time will be very high. But to what extent these attempts will be successful will depend on the level of policing,” Neeraj told Newsclick.
As per a report in Newsclick, India has a large illegal betting market, with various underground betting syndicates.
In 2012, a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) paper quoting KPMG stated that the betting market in India was at Rs. 3,00,000 crore per annum, which, if legalised and taxed, could lead to revenue earning potential of Rs12,000 to Rs. 19,000 crore. In 2016, Doha-based International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) estimated India’s illegal betting sector at Rs. 990,000 crore ($150 billion approx), of which more than 80% comprises betting on cricket.
Even though the world of betting is going digital world over, the illegal bookkeepers in India keep meticulous analog records of each bet and transaction. A ledger called Lal Kitaab or red book is maintained in code by each bookkeeper, who is the only one with the key to those codes. Hawala operators help move large sums of bets and winnings in the system spread across the nation and internationally.
“On one betting website alone, around $5 million (Rs 37 crore) per IPL game used to be put up on stake. You can imagine how much money would have been involved if all betting websites are taken into account. Mind you, this was on just those betting websites that are legal in other parts of the world. It is difficult to fathom how much money is involved in India’s illegal betting market,” Neeraj says.
A 75-page analysis titled ‘CBI’S Report On Cricket Match Fixing And Related Malpractices’ highlighted the lukewarm response of BCCI’s to match-fixing, “Although, there is no concrete evidence to suggest the direct involvement of any of the members of the BCCI in match-fixing, their resolute indifference does give rise to suspicion that there was perhaps more than that meets the eye. It defies credulity to believe that the apex body was oblivious to such rampant match-fixing and, therefore, did not find the need to investigate thoroughly the results of matches which are patently questionable.”
As per the SportsKeeda report, BCCI has employed Sportradar, this IPL season, to provide data-driven insights to BCCI’s Anti-corruption unit that traditionally monitors players and officials during the tournament.
Sportradar offers data-driven insights based on betting activities occurring in the global market to be used with on-field activities to raise any potential flags.
Last year, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI’s) Anti Corruption Unit head Ajit Singh Shekhawat suggested that legalising betting and bringing a strong law against cheating in sport would help in tackling issues of match-fixing in cricket.
Stay tuned for more IPL 2020 betting news and tips.