Playing the odds

It’s the biggest cricket event of the year and stakes are high not just for the teams or fans. Thousands of punters are going to win or lose big

In the new ICC Cricket World Cup format, India is set to play a minimum of nine matches. Surely, it will rain money, and the ad sales team at Star India is looking to rake in a cool Rs.15 billion. There is also another happy bunch — the bookies. Year 2019 brought with it three big-bet events — the IPL, the World Cup and the general elections. Since betting is illegal in India, the total value of the market cannot be brought down to a single figure. However, its value is estimated to be upwards of a whopping Rs.9 trillion in India alone (according to a 2018 KPMG report ); of which, IPL makes a huge chunk. Though the World Cup can’t beat IPL in bet sizes, it draws punters by offering them more than one India vs Pakistan game. According to experts in the field, betting at the World Cup has doubled since the 2011 edition. Bets close to Rs.1 trillion are expected to be placed, compared with Rs.500 billion in 2011. Talk around legalisation of gambling in India is picking up pace since this enormous, unregulated industry could prove to be a major source of income for the government. If taxed at 20-28%, the government coffers could ring in an additional revenue of more than Rs.800 billion.