Bookies still give Manmohan edge, but just about (Lead)

July 22nd, 2008 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Bookies continued to bet on the Manmohan Singh government winning the trust vote, despite the dramatic development Tuesday where three opposition MPs flashed wads of currency notes in parliament alleging it was a bribe given to them to go against their party’s position. Bookies who spoke to IANS said they were offering just Rs.1.12 for each rupee placed on the government winning the trust vote, whereas those who were gambling on a victory for the opposition, would get Rs.1.16 for every rupee.

Just three days ago, the money offered for an opposition victory was sharply higher at Rs.2.90 for every rupee placed as a bet, and just Rs.1.38 on every rupee placed for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to win the trust vote.

But while the odds favouring the government came down Tuesday morning, it did not change after three members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged they had received money from the ruling coalition to vote in favour of the confidence motion.

“For us, it only shows the desperation of the opposition. We are still offering 12 paise on Re.1 for UPA win, and 16 paise for a defeat,” a Delhi-based bookmaker told IANS on condition of anonymity, as betting is illegal in the country.

Sunday saw the odds against the government further shorten to 23 paise for a government win although the odds for a government defeat remained the same. This meant as D-Day was nearing, bookies were getting more and more convinced that the government would survive the trust vote.

But Monday saw an interesting development.

The odds on a government defeat which had remained consistently high till then came down sharply.

“It’s almost evens-stevens now as we are offering 23 paise on the rupee for a government win and 25 paise on a government defeat,” said a leading bookmaker based in Chhattisgarh capital of Raipur Monday.

“With media reports about MPs switching over from one side to another, the bookies are confused. They are finding it difficult to take a call. Around 52 percent of a total of about 92,000 bookies believe the Manmohan Singh government has an edge,” he said.

The bookie, along with two others, are credited as big bulls or satta kings, and command the western and central India betting market with a chain of about 18,000 collection centres.

While estimates about the total volume of betting on this event varied, the Delhi-based bookie said “betting volumes have crossed Rs.20 billion ($500 million) on a national level”.

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