Atleast 250 people were arrested across Chhattisgarh over the past month for their involvement in operating centres related to an online betting platform. As per Chhattisgarh police, the centres were set up in an attempt to indulge people into an online betting platform named Mahadev. The police also reported that application was originally launched by a group of people in Dubai.
Chhattigarh was one of the few places where they opened centres to tempt people to download this app and place their bet here.
“They opened around 30 centres, mostly in Chhattisgarh, and more than ₹200 crores of transactions happen from each of these centres,” a police officer said as reported by Hindustan Times. So far a total of 258 people have been arrested in 25 cases. The application has close to 4M downloads and most bets were in the range of INR 1,000 to INR 5,000.
Police teams in three districts, Raipur, Bhilai and Bilaspur are busy investigating links to this online betting mobile application.
Abhishek Pallava Superintendent of Police (SP) of the Durg District said that the group in Dubai used to charge a deposit of INR 20 lakhs for anyone who wanted to open a centre or branch of the Mahadev app. They were then allowed to become the admins and unique IDs were distributed to the customers. The branches further hired agents who used to tempt people to download and place a bet on this app.
Police also reported that apart from offline installation of the app, the online mode was also available through a missed call on a particular number or through the use of messaging apps such as Signal, Whatsapp etc.
“Agents got 6% to 8% commission on the bets placed, apart from salary, and the operators up to 20%,” the SP said adding that it was promoted as a way to earn “quick money.”
Chhattisgarh Police also reported that those who placed bets mostly made the payments through UPI payment apps such as PhonePe, Google Pay etc.
“Many of these bank accounts have been opened in the name of poor people by using their Aadhaar and Pan cards. A person gets ₹5,000 for giving photocopies of the documents to open the bank account,” the officer said as reported by Hindustan Times.
“More than 50 corporate Mahadev bank accounts and more than 10,000 accounts of people who have put bets on apps are under scanner,” said Raipur SP Prashant Agarwal as reported by Hindustan Times.
Chhattisgarh Police also said that all those bank accounts have been frozen.
“We are also initiating action against those who have opened corporate bank accounts,” the official said as reported by Hindustan Times.
Officers informed that mostly the ones who used this app belonged to the middle class families. A businessman who bets through this app said that it became an ‘addiction’ eventually.
“There are certain locations in the city, where we met almost everyday and bet,” he said.
Betting and Gambling is prohibited under Public Gambling Act, 1867, but it is a state subject. The state of Chhattisgarh can enact legislation to curb online gambling as done by states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu.