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Matka gambling or satta is a form of lottery which originally involved betting on the opening and closing rates of cotton transmitted from the New York Cotton Exchange. It originates from before the era of Indian independence when it was known as Ankada Jugar ("figures gambling"). In the 1960s, the system was replaced with other ways of generating random numbers, including pulling slips from a large earthenware pot known as a matka, or dealing playing cards.

Matka gambling is illegal in India.[1]

Contents

HistoryEdit

In the original form of the game, betting would take place on the opening and closing rates of cotton as transmitted to the Bombay Cotton Exchange from the New York Cotton Exchange, via teleprinters.

In 1961, the New York Cotton Exchange stopped the practice, which caused the punters to look for alternative ways to keep the matka business alive. Rattan Khatri introduced the idea of declaring opening and closing rates of imaginary products. Numbers would be written on pieces of paper and put into a matka, a large earthen pitcher. One person would then draw a chit and declare the winning numbers. Over the years, the practice changed, so that three numbers were drawn from a pack of playing cards, but the name "matka" was kept.[2]

In 1962, Kalyanji Bhagat started the Worli matka. Rattan Khatri introduced the New Worli matka in 1964, with slight modifications to the rules of the game. Kalyanji Bhagat's matka ran for all days of the week, whereas Rattan Khatri’s matka ran only five days a week, from Monday to Friday.[3]

During the flourishing of textile mills in Mumbai, many mill workers played matka, resulting in bookies opening their shops in and around the mill areas, predominantly located in Central Mumbai. Central Mumbai became the hub of the matka business in Mumbai.

The decades of 1980s and 1990s saw the matka business reach its peak. Betting volumes in excess of Rs. 500 crore would be laid every month. The Mumbai police’s massive crackdown on the matka dens forced dealers to shift their base to the city’s outskirts. Many of them moved to Gujarat, Rajasthan and other states. With no major source of betting in the city, the punters got attracted to other sources of gambling such as online and zhatpat lotteries. Meanwhile, the rich punters began to explore betting on cricket matches.[4]

In 1995 there were more than 2,000 big and medium-time bookies in the city and neighboring towns, but since then the numbers have declined substantially to less than 300. Of late,[when?] the average monthly turnover has remained around Rs. 100 crore.[2] The modern matka business is centered around Maharashtra.[citation needed]

Matka KingsEdit

A person who has won a great deal of money from matka gambling is known as a "Matka King".

Kalyanji BhagatEdit

Kalyanji Bhagat was born a farmer in the village of Ratadia, Ganes Wala in Kutch, Gujarat. Kalyanji's family name was Gala and the name Bhagat, a modification of bhakt, was a title given to their family by the King of Kutch for their religiousness.

He arrived as a migrant in Bombay in 1941 and initially did odd jobs such as masala ferriwala (spice seller) to managing a grocery store. In the 1960s, when Kalyanji Bhagat was running a grocery shop in Worli, he pioneered matka gambling by accepting bets based on the opening and closing rates of cotton traded on the New York wholesale market. He used to operate from the compound of his building Vinod Mahal, in Worli.[5].

Suresh BhagatEdit

On June 11, 2008, a truck rammed into a Mahindra Scorpio in which Suresh Bhagat and six others, including his lawyer and bodyguards were travelling, killing all of them. They were returning from an Alibaug court, where the hearing of a 1998 narcotics case had been held. During investigations by the police it was revealed that Hitesh Bhagat (Suresh Bhagat's son) and his mother Jaya Bhagat had hatched the plot to kill Suresh Bhagat. Hitesh and nine others, including Jaya, were arrested and were tried under the stringent act of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act and subsequently convicted.[6]

Rattan KhatriEdit

Rattan Khatri, known as the Matka King, from the early 1960s to mid-1990s controlled a nationwide illegal gambling network with international connections which involved several lakh punters and dealt with crores of rupess.

Khatri's matka started in the bustling business area of Dhanji Street in Mumbadevi where idlers used to wager on the daily trickle of the fluctuating cotton rates from the New York market. Gradually, it became a big gambling hub as the quantum of bets and betters increased. Due to a row over a winning number plus the New York market’s five-day week schedule, compulsive betters began looking for alternatives. Based on the requests of his friends, Khatri started his own syndicate and started drawing three cards to decide the day’s number. Khatri's betting was considered more genuine as the cards were reportedly opened in the presence of the patron. During the emergency in India, Khatri was jailed and served 19 months behind bars. He has retired from the gambling business and lives near Tardeo; however, he still does visit the Mahalaxmi Racecourse to bet on his favorite horses.[3]

TerminologyEdit

Term Meaning/Explanation
Matka The word matka is derived from a word for an earthen pot. Such pots were used in the past to draw the numbers.
Single Any digit between 0 and 9 which involves in betting.[clarification needed]
Jodi/Pair Any pair of two digits between 00 and 99 involves in matka (e.g. : 52)[clarification needed]
Patti/Panna A three digit result comes as betting result. All three digit number is patti/panna. Only limited 3 digit numbers are used.[clarification needed]
Open result / close result The outcome of matka betting is divided into two parts. The first part is called open result and the second part close result.
SP/DP/TP SP stands for Single Patti e.g. 123, DP stands for Double Patti e.g. 112, and TP stands for Tripple Patti e.g. 111
Cycle Patti The last two digit of the patti is called the cycle patti or cp (e.g. if the patti is 128, the cycle patti is 28)
Farak The Farak is how many difference from close result to open result (e.g.if the jodi/pair is 57, 7-5; the farak is 2; some another: "73" is 13-7 - 6 )
Berij The Berij is last digit of jodi's/pair's sum. (e.g. if pair is 76, berij is 7+6 = 13; last digit is 3; means berij is 3)

Influences in BollywoodEdit

The matka business and the lives of the matka kings also had an influence on Bollywood. The character of Prem Nath who enacted the title role in Bollywood filmmaker Feroz Khan's film Dharmatma was based on Rattan Khatri who also provided the basic logistics for the script and dialogues written by Kaushal Bharati.[7]

Khatri also ventured into Bollywood financing and one such film that he financed was Rangeela Ratan, which he co-produced with Ramchandra Bhikubhai and even acted in.[4]

ReferencesEdit