A recent sports betting bust in India illustrates the often unheralded ingenuity that many bookies are capable of employing to ensure that sports bettors are able to enjoy their chosen form of entertainment.
Last week, Indian media outlets reported the arrest of seven individuals accused of operating an illegal cricket betting ring out of a luxury flat in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The bookies reportedly utilized online betting exchange Betfair to set real-time in-play betting odds on Indian Premier League (IPL) matches for their wagering clients.
So far, nothing all that remarkable about this bust. Until you get to the gang’s technology, which was custom designed for the group by a local electrician with skilled hands and a gift for not asking too many questions.
The electrician rigged up a connection of 16 bog-standard Nokia mobile phones (chosen for their long battery life) that enabled the bookies to simultaneously communicate with multiple punters. For this, the electrician charged the bookies the low, low price of Rs 27k ($420), with a 32-handset model available for Rs 50k.
The amazing thing about these set-ups were the fact that they were built directly into suitcases for easy setup and (presumably) escape should the gang have sufficient warning of the police’s imminent arrival. In this case, they didn’t, which fortunately (for us) allows us a glimpse at their ingenious plug-and-play technology.
Interestingly, while the bookies are likely facing prison time, the electrician appears to be in the clear, as there’s apparently no law against stitching a bunch of phones together unless it can be proven that you have some stake in their ultimate use. Regardless, the local cops are reportedly leaning on him in the hopes that he’ll reveal how many of these systems he may have built for other busy bookmakers on the go.
For years now, India has been mulling the idea of updating its 150-year-old gambling laws to finally permit betting on sports events. A seemingly endless parade of ex-politicians, government officials and think-tanks have all recommended that the government legalize, regulate and tax sports betting not only as a source of revenue but also as a means of preventing recurrences of the fixing scandals that have plagued Indian sport in recent years.