Bookmakers in the eastern Nepali metropolitan of Biratnagar have become active again with the start of the new season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) that kicked off on April 9.
Right from the first match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and defending champions Mumbai Indians, Athar Ansari of Ghoghapul Chowk, Biratnagar—who is considered one of the biggest bookmakers in Biratnagar having been in the business for a decade—has mobilized his team of bookies across the country.
Born into an ordinary family, Ansari has now built a multi-million-dollar business in Biratnagar by betting on cricket matches and offering personal loans at high interests. Ansari, who previously went to India to watch the IPL live every year, is believed to be operating his business from Biratnagar this time. Last year too Ansari had operated from Biratnagar with the 2020 IPL held in the UAE due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ansari is believed to have invested his money acquired from illegal sports betting into offshore businesses. His team now comprises of youngsters who help him connect with new betters and to spread his loan-sharking nexus.
Absconding after police crackdown on bookies last year, Ansari has since been running an underground betting business and has even mobilized some cricketers in Biratnagar. According to a source, Ansari has expanded his betting business by including cricketers who could not make it to the Nepali national team.
To whiten his black money, Ansari has sent his two brothers and their families abroad in pretense of doing business. Lately, according to sources, he has been operating various businesses in Biratnagar. For instance, he has appointed one Majahid Ansari as the manager of New Baba Service Center and Showroom at Ghoghapul Chowk in Biratnagar from where he operates an illegal betting office. About half-a-dozen people are employed at the showroom whose main job is to raise money from betters.
Ansari has four business partners. He and his partners had absconded after the incident of their holding a young man hostage for two days for betting on an IPL match in Biratnagar became public last year. The young man had apparently failed to pay up the money he had lost in betting.
It was also revealed last year that one Ronaldo Kandel—also known as Ronaldo of Biratnagar-11—had signed a check for Rs 800,000 by holding hostage and mentally torturing Pintu ‘Bachha’ Agrawal, also known as Pintu of Biratnagar.
Meanwhile, Morang Police Chief SP Santosh Khadka says the police are vigilant about betting rackets in Biratnagar. Khadka informs that the police has increased surveillance on suspected people and will step in to control betting rackets.
Nepal’s Gambling Act 1963 defines gambling as ‘any game of chance which is played upon laying a wager for gaining or losing money.’ It mandates a maximum penalty of Rs 200 for first-time offenders, and one to three months imprisonment for repeat offenders.