Indian bookies raking in millions thanks to heavy monsoons

NEW DELHI, June 5, 2006 (AFP) – Bountiful early monsoon rains are raking in millions of dollars for Indian bookies taking bets on the amount of rain that will drench the country between June and September, a report said Monday. The weather office has predicted a below normal monsoon this year but bookies have stacked the odds for those banking on heavy rains, the Economic Times newspaper said.

This was based on their experience of last year when many lost heavily after the western economic hub of Mumbai received a record 944.2 millimeters (37.1 inches) in a 24-hour period, throwing out all usual statistics.

Bookies quoted by the Economic Times said big bets had started flowing in thanks to the monsoons setting in earlier and being more plentiful than expected.

“Normally, the bets take place on a normal rainfall of 72-78 inches. However, last year the monsoon was beyond our expectation,” the report quoted a Mumbai-based bookie as saying.

Total turnover, it said, was set to hit 35 billion rupees (777 million dollars) despite betting being illegal in India on anything other than horse-racing.

Bookies were operating illegally from big cities such as New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Jaipur, Bhopal, Indore and Guwahati