Matka bookmakers now have competition in Goa.
Online gambling appears to have become the last illegal avenue for gamblers willing to try their luck with the numbers, given the series of law enforcement raids on such clandestine operations.
The series of raids by Crime Branch officials and police stations in urban centers like Mapusa, Vasco, Margao and Panaji only shows how the fervor of illegal online gambling has swept through the populated pockets of Goa.
There are several key elements that differentiate illicit matka operations from new online gambling hubs, starting with the type of investment required to set up an operation for the latter.
While matka bookmakers operate on a shoestring budget, wielding only a pen, a matka receipt book, a sheet of carbon paper and a small cubbyhole to set up shop in, an online gambling operation requires more investment, according to a police official, who was part of recent raids on these dens.
“Operators buy apps for games and invest in computers. They make money after investing that kind of money,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Matka bookmakers are largely local residents, while online gambling dens are controlled by non-Goanese operators, the official also said.
The other differentiator is that even though a matka bookmaker cares little about public exposure, online gambling operations are hidden from the public eye.
While matka can be played with modest amounts of money, even a few rupees at a time, when it comes to online gambling, making your bets involves a minimum sum.
“There is no (upper) limit as such, but you must purchase a minimum amount of tickets to play. After the initial sum, you can continue to spend more while you play,” also said the responsible.
He further stated that addicted gamblers, migrant workers, entrepreneurs and even vulnerable students bitten by the gambling bug are frequent customers of these online gambling dens.
And while matka betting payouts happen twice a day, online gambling sprees can last all day as long as you have the cash to shell out.
The Matka game gives the prizes to the player twice a day so that there is less risk of addiction and loss for the player. In business, it’s more about casino games and no hospitality, unlike official onshore and offshore casinos.
The interest in online gambling is evident with the number of cases registered by the police in recent times.
In June 2020, during a raid in Taleigao, eight people were arrested with cash amounting to Rs 6.40 lakh seized in May 2021. Police in Margao also raided a gambling den around this time , arresting a person and seizing Rs 80,000.
In January 2022, three people were arrested in Porvorim with a seizure of Rs. 25 lakh, while on April 18, 2022, 11 people were arrested with a sum of Rs 27 lakh. On May 3 and 6, in two different raids in Margao, a total of 10 people were arrested with cash of more than Rs 3 lakh.
According to sources, there are more than four to five places in every city in Goa where illegal online gambling operations are going on. Populated coastal areas are also favored by online gambling operators.
With the growing demand for illegal online gambling avenues, social activists like Kashinath Shetye have demanded a strict crackdown on such operations, which he says have also added a prostitution slide as an allied thrill.
“Illegal online gambling and prostitution takes place in some casinos. Please attack them,” Shetye demanded.
This news is reported by The Goan. To read more GOA news, visit The Goan.
Published on: Saturday 07 May 2022, 13:05 IST