Income-Tax (I-T) sleuths have busted a betting racket at the Hyderabad Race Club (HRC) in Malakpet run by registered bookies and seized unaccounted cash worth 1 crore from four of them. The registered bookies had resorted to unaccounted betting in order to avoid paying a 28 per cent goods and services tax (GST). It is estimated that around Rs 720 crore worth of unaccounted-for betting took place every year post the implementation of GST. The seizure of unaccouted cash worth Rs 1 crore took place on Thursday and was revealed by I-T sleuths on Friday.
Confirming the raids and seizure, Hyderabad Race Club Chairman R Surender Reddy told TOI: “We were told unofficially that income tax searches were conducted on bookies. We give licences only to bookmakers and they are registered with the GST Commissionarate. We only collect a stall fee from them as they operate at the race course. We collect GST in the form of cheques transparently. How are they carrying on the betting will come under the purview of tax officials.” “I have written to Hyderabad Commissioner of Police regarding illegal betting taking place not only in Malakpet but elsewhere in the city and requested the police to control it. Before the GST regime. HRC’s turnover was Rs 1,200 crore per annum and we were paying Rs 140 crore as tax to the state government. Post-GST, the turnover has come down to Rs 480 crore per annum and the rest of the business has gone underground, ergo, an increase in illegal betting,” Reddy explained. Through illegal betting, the punter avoids paying GST, thus depriving the Centre and the state their due share of tax revenue.
“Legally, if one has to bet for Rs 100, he has to pay Rs 128. Instead, he is opting to pay Rs 100 plus Rs 5 to the bookmaker. This has led to an increase in unaccounted betting and a drop in HRC’s annual income by 60 per cent,” said Surender Reddy. Searches were conducted on four bookies of whom three were identified as Ram Kumar Reddy, Mahendra Agarwal and Niranjan Jawahar. HRC renewes the licence of bookmakers every year and if found erring, the license gets cancelled. Speaking to TOI, an city off-course betting said.
“In off-course betting, everything is computerised and we can’t take unaccounted bets whereas, in the Race Course in Malakpet, cash exchange is possible. In the boxes allotted, each bookie can take unaccounted bettings manually.” Taking a stand on the current betting scenario in the country, HRC chairman Surender Reddy said: “Thousands of crores of illegal cricket betting happens during every cricket match in the country and no action is taken. I represent India as a member of the Asian Racing Federation consisting of 36 countries. Almost all other countries such as China (including Hong Kong) and Malaysia have conducted a studies on illegal betting and legalised it. We have to think of legalising cricket betting as well as every other forms of betting.”