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After our fight for independence was over, India picked up many traditions from the Brits who were ruling our country for 190 years or so. One of those habits were gambling, now to remind you, gambling was a very popular past time sport for them. The Brits would bet on horses and even play games keeping stakes (Remember the movie Lagaan, where the Brits would play a cricket match, keeping the taxes as a stake was a reference to the existence of betting). Soon after their not so kind, departure India just like any recently turned adult moving out of the home to build on the dream tasted freedom. Realising the fact, that there would be no one to stop her progress or her desires, India tried her hands on gambling which was previously known as Ankada Jugar, meaning the gambling of figures/numbers.
Read more: How to play Satta Matka?
However, our evolution was solely based on our intelligence and in less than two decades India had concocted her own version of gambling known as Satta Matka (Satta meaning gambling/betting and Matka referred to the earthenware pot from which the winning numbers would be picked).
Perhaps, it would not come to this if the betting on the opening and closing rates of cotton from the New York Cotton Exchange was not stopped from being transmitted to the Bombay Cotton Exchange. The year was 1961, when the practice of betting on cotton rates were stopped and the bettors or punters had nowhere to gamble. Seeing this an opportunity too good to be missed, particularly when the opportunity could bring in Rs 500 crore (50 billions) in a frigging month only a fool would say no to such an opportunity. Hence, came along Rattan Khatri with an idea of betting on the opening and closing of any imaginary products and not just cotton. What happened after, had changed the face of betting in India forever!
Known as the Indian Satta Matka, Rattan Khatri’s idea of the game was to write numbers on pieces of paper and would put those chits in an earthen pot. Now when all the bets were placed, the chits of paper from the earthen pot would be drawn randomly and the winning numbers would be announced. With time, the practice of picking up numbers written on chits turned into three random cards from a pack of cards but the word Matka got stuck on it.
A year later, in 1962, another businessman or bookie arrived in the scene and his name was Kalyanji Bhagat who was popularly known as the father of Worli Matka, which would run or played on all the seven days of the week unlike the Monday to Friday playing days in Rattan Khatri’s Matka. This was also the time when Mumbai would see a rise in the textile industry and soon, most of those mill workers would start betting and that saw bookies open up their hubs around those mills and suddenly Central Mumbai became the biggest hub of the Matka business in the country.
The 1980s and 1990s saw the Matka business reaching the sky and like mentioned before Rs 500 crore was earned every month so the Mumbai Police had to intervene for they believed that the revenue earned from the Matka business was to fund corruption and crimes. The secret raids of the law and order in the state forced the bookies to the outskirts of the city and some would even flee to the neighbouring states of Gujarat and Rajasthan from getting nabbed by the police. The government might have patted on their back then, hoping that even if they couldn’t put an end to Matka business, they surely bottle necked it but like the saying goes that if a Tiger has tasted blood, it will never stop hunting and so it happened with the bookies and bettors. They evolved too, and they got into online gambling and lotteries but the rich ones went a step further and started betting on cricket matches.
The evolution of gambling happened in India even though the police reduced the number of 2000 medium time bookies to 300 since 1995 to of late and the turnover also reduced to 1/5th of what it was but Rs 100 crore in a month is not that less and the state of Maharashtra remains a Matka business hub still.
For a nation, that has gambling tied to the pages of its history since the ancient time (the main cause for epic Mahabharata battle between the pandavas and kauravas), has stood firmly against the legalisation of it across the whole country yet with ungodly technological advancements, gambling is dominant in almost every major city in India whether or not Indian government choose to accept this fact.