There have been renewed efforts to stop matka gambling in Goa. A public interest litigation have approached the high court of Bombay at Goa in order to put a stop to matka. The high court notified the director general of the police and the state government of the petition that was lodged with the court.
According to Kashinath Shetye, one of the social activists who contacted the court, even after evidence was shown to the police, no action was taken. The alleged reason for this is that the politicians and police are involved, with the police not only turning a blind eye to the illegal gambling, but also collecting hafta, or protection money from bookies.
While matka was once poor man’s gambling, according to the matka agents, this has changed, with both the poor and the affluent trying their luck on matka numbers on a daily basis. A matka agent said that some of his customers are those who have been seen playing in Goa’s offshore casinos. The agent claims that more than 80 percent of his customers are from affluent families, including police, businessmen, and even politicians.
The petition notes: “We have no objection if the trade of gambling is regularized and hafta protection money, which goes into the pockets of the police, politicians, gamblers, criminals and terrorists is legalized by way of hefty taxes, which should go into the state treasury with no person/student below the age of 18 being allowed to gamble.”
According to police reports, there have been between 80 and 90 matka dens raided over the past year. There have been approximately 150 arrests in this time and about Rs 10 lakh has been seized from the matka agents.
Matka is run somewhat along mafia lines, with agents operating only in their own areas, making sure not to operate in other areas. It is estimated that the turnover from matka is likely around Rs 15 – 20 crore on an a regular day.