The elections for the state of Punjab in India are due to be held next month and according to local news there is a heavy incidence of betting taking place on the outcomes. The main centers of betting are the larger Punjab cities like Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar. The Hindustan Times reports that the betting has already exceeded Rs 1,500 crores (USD 300 million) and will increase as the election dates draw closer.
The state of Punjab has an interesting scenario. Most of the seats will be a straight fight between candidates from the two leading parties, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress. However, the internal rebellions in both these parties have created a very volatile situation. The bookies have begun to favor some new candidates who are challenging incumbent veterans. The apathy against sitting members is expected to play a role. The constituencies with win-loss stakes of 60:40, 80:60 and 50:70 are the ones that are drawing the heaviest betting because of the greater uncertainty.
Neither the union of India nor the individual states permit this kind of betting and therefore the activity is all underground. The Ludhiana police commissioner Ishwar Chander said, “Any unlawful activity, including betting and gambling, will be dealt with strictly. I have directed the cyber crime wing to keep track of the network of the organized betting sector and also of small-time and local bookies.” Most of the bettors are businessmen, real-estate dealers and members of affluent families. They usually bet on cricket matches in which India plays. But with the Indian cricket team taking a massive beating against Australia, there is no charm left in that betting sector.