Bookies in India have cashed in on the US presidential elections. The country's illegal betting market, or 'satta bazaar', recorded a turnover of about Rs 500 crore in a fortnight, as betting on Obama and Romney reached a feversh pitch, said bookies in Mumbai and Delhi.
Not surprisingly, Obama was the favourite. However, bets poured in until the last couple of hours of vote counting, which was marked by a see-saw battle between the two candidates. Bookies said they were interested in betting, as, if re-elected as President, Obama would be only the second Democrat to win a consecutive term in White House since World War II. Opinion polls had shown he had only a slight advantage.
Odds on Romney rose to as high as Rs 20 against every rupee and fell to five paise on Obama. Bookies said they had pegged their odds on international market rates. References were drawn from top betting websites like Paddy Power, InTrade and the UK's William Hill.
Betting on elections is legal in the US and Europe, but is restricted to horse-trading in India.
Bookies said those betting small sums were mostly placing their bets on Romney, as the odds were high. "At a point, bets on Romney saw a sharp rise when his electoral votes stood at around 180 and Obama's were stuck at 173. But that was till California was called," they said.
Bookies say they try to create odds, inducing even money on both sides to reduce their exposure. However, it is a balancing act, and often, they are unsuccessful.
A couple of weeks earlier, the odds on Obama stood at 45 paise against every rupee, while on Romney, the odds stood at Rs 2.