Horse race betting gaining popularity in Mangalore? 'Off-course!'
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Dec 4: In our country betting is still not considered or viewed as a behavior that enjoys social approval. But horse racing is the only sports in India where legalized betting is permitted though even this sport does not escape from the criticism that races are fixed. This allegation apart, there are many enthusiasts in our country who bet in horse racing as a hobby, as a pastime time or as a passion.
In Karnataka, Mangalore is one of the ten off course betting centers apart from Tumkur, located outside Bangalore managed by Bangalore Turf Club (BTC). This off course betting centre is located in the Lower Ground Floor of Albuquerque House in Pandeshwar, just opposite Forum Mangalore Mall. Horse race betting enthusiasts swarm the centre throughout the day and during evening hours. It attracts wagers from Mangalore and nearby districts of Kasargod and Udupi.
With the changing times horse race betting has become a favorite passion of people from all economic backgrounds, unlike earlier where it was associated with the elite and the upper class. Though at BTC and other racecourses women are keen participants at horse races and betting, at the off-course betting centre in Mangalore it is an all male realm. So it was not unexpected that when I entered the centre to get some information about it I was politely told by a regular at the entrance that it is club and not a place frequented by women. Incidentally I had arrived there on the opening day of the winter season of horse racing.
This off-course betting centre which was lying low from August after the summer season is once again seeing a flurry of activity as Bangalore Turf Club has started its winter season of racing from November which will go up to April. There are altogether nine racetracks in India and of this two are in Karnataka – the Bangalore Race Course and the Mysore Race Course.
The Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) established the off course betting centre in Mangalore in 2003 and it is functioning as a full-fledged off-course betting centre wherein enthusiasts can bet from Rs 10 upwards, the upper limit being unlimited. BTC has posted its own employees at this betting centre and the transactions are entirely transparent. By betting with a minimum of Rs 10 a unit, a racing enthusiast can earn a handsome amount not only by predicting a winner but also by predicting a horse which ends up as a runner up. There are many other ways of getting returns on a investment of Rs 10.
It is really quite intriguing to see horse race enthusiasts at the off-course betting center here responding before, during and after the televised horse races. If it is a thousand meter race the action-filled drama is short lived and so is the curiosity. When the race goes on these enthusiasts squirm in their seats, some are tensed and rub their hands, some stand and start whistling if the horse on which they have put the money is in the lead and finally there are aahs, oohs and oophs once the action is over depending on the results of their favorite horses. These enthusiasts who frequent this betting centre refer Best of Luck (BOL) booklet that contain vital details of the horses, their wins, losses, jockeys, the places they secured in earlier races and such other details. Bases on the details they garner, they place their bets.
There are many ways one can bet at the races says Keshav, a self employed man who has been active in betting for the last 20 years. Keshav was attracted to this sport when he was working in Mumbai and ever since horse racing has become a part of his life. But can betting in horse race be considered as a hobby having societal approval, is still debatable. “I don’t spent too much money or betting. I may play only with Rs. 50 a day or at the most go up to Rs. 200/-. Sometimes I gain which I spent and sometimes I don’t. If we know how to control it becomes a passion that can be enjoyable. But we should know where to draw the line and should not become greedy”, says Keshav.
There are three ways of betting at the races – either on the tote, the automated system that runs betting, with fluctuating odds and payouts, at fixed odds or with the bookmakers. Tote is a computerized form of pool betting. Here all the wagers made in a given race or combination of races is aggregated, taxes and fees are deducted and proceeds are divided among the winners as their payout. Betting on the tote means the wager is betting into a pool with everyone else who is betting on the same race and bet type. Therefore in tote betting the winning amount is known only after the race gets over. The total amount – collected after bets are accepted on each horse of a race is disbursed among the winners. While doing so, the government’s commission in the form of tax is shared by the government and host club. Whatever might be the facility through which this betting it is made, the entire Tote bets will become part of the same shared pool.
Anyone betting in a horse race can expect a return by various ways such as predicting a Win for the horse, Forecast two winners finishing first and second in the correct order, a Place where the wager is required to select the first three horses in a single race, Second Horse Pool (SHP) where the punter predicts the horse to come second, Jodi where a wager is betting on a combination of two horses in a single race, Tanala by predicting first three finishers in correct order and so on. There is also jackpot where the wager is expected to select all the winners of five different races. Finally there is a super jackpot where the wager is expected to select all of the winners of six different races. Keshav says he was a winner of jackpot price five years ago.
Srinivas Kamath, a retired bank employee from Udupi comes to Mangalore for betting on a regular basis. He spends a minimum of Rs. 300/- on a regular basis and occasionally manages to win. For Kamath it is more of a hobby which he says he picked up when he was posted in Bangalore.
PRO of Bangalore Turf Club Nagabhushan says “horse race betting is legal and is permitted by the government. Basically, we take this as a sport and don’t treat it as gambling because skill of the jockey is involved in a horse winning the race”.
Horse racing is not without its controversies of fixing; though betting in horse racing is legal. All said and done, the best bet when it comes to betting in horse racing is to treat it as a sport. It is not a healthy hobby for people who are wary of using reasonable restrain.