Saturday, March 31, 2007


Backstreet bookies thrive in Pakistan.
By Alastair Leithead BBC News, Lahore.

On a roof-top terrace high above Lahore, four men are seated with mobile phones scattered around them, the cricket playing on a TV set in the corner.

Many small bookmaker shops thrive in Lahore.
Different ring-tones bring in new bets - all the calls are recorded on tape, and one of the men notes down the amount pledged and the odds offered.
Hundreds of thousands of rupees are being staked on the West Indies versus New Zealand game in this illegal Pakistani betting shop.
One big black phone is left on speaker mode in the centre of the room - an open line to the boss who is setting the odds, and monitoring all his mobile operations across the city.
We had parked in a dark alley and been led up the stairs by the well-to-do men running one of thousands of small operations across Lahore.
Way of life
Betting may be illegal in Pakistan but it's big business, and modern mobile technology makes it almost impossible to crack down on.
The cricket World Cup is a good opportunity - they are betting on the result and spread and spot betting throughout each match.

I believe that the mafia killed him
Mr C Pakistani bookmaker.

There are different opinions on whether there was fixing in the Pakistan-Ireland match, when Pakistan were defeated knocked out of the World Cup at the group stage.
Cricket is a way of life here and passions were high, with anger at the team's poor performance countered by sadness at the death of the Pakistan Cricket coach, Bob Woolmer.
And betting is such a big money-earner that it's in the interests of the "Mr Bigs" to influence the outcome of matches - despite efforts by the International Cricket Council to crack down on it.
Match-fixing claims
Mr C, the man running the bookies' shop in Lahore, explains how it works: "They call me and say they want half a million Pakistan rupees on this ball or that over, and it if doesn't work out they have to pay us."
And like everyone here, Mr C has his own theory as to what happened to Woolmer.
"I believe that the mafia killed him, but we'll have to wait for the reports," he says.
"By mafia I mean it is spread over not just Pakistan and India, but everywhere, from Pakistan to India to Dubai, South Africa and even Britain - it's spread all over."
And even the man tipped by some to be in line for the job as the next Pakistan coach admits match fixing goes on.
"I can't say there is no match-fixing in cricket because there is," said Aqib Javed, currently a youth coach for the national team.
"When the team lost the game the fans were very angry and emotional and aggressive, but after Bob's murder things have changed and they are more sympathetic.
"It's all speculation, but you can't relate match-fixing with Bob's murder."



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