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Bookies foresee deficient rains, Rs 2,000 crore of bets at stake

Punters who went by the official forecast have lost money, but those who trusted their instincts and bet on weak rainfall have made a killing.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jun 23, 2012, 10.35 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Monsoon may be weaker than forecasts, farmers may fear crop loss, and policymakers may worry about inflation and growth, but a clever bunch is reaping a good harvest - the bookies.

So far, punters who went by the official forecast have lost money, but those who trusted their instincts and bet on weak rainfall have made a killing as rains have been patchy.

From the dusty lanes of nondescript villages in Rajasthan to swanky offices in Mumbai's skyscrapers, punters are watching every drop of rain and each passing cloud as an estimated Rs 2,000 crore of bets are at stake for the four-month monsoon season, which made a rocky start with deficient, erratic rainfall after the weather office predicted a normal monsoon.

Till the first week of June, normal rainfall seemed likely and an unrewarding bet. Betting 1 would fetch a return of only 50 paise if the monsoon turned out to be normal, and Rs 2 for deficient rains. A drought, which seemed very unlikely, would multiply the money six times for the punter. Bookies are virtually ruling out excess rainfall and will give rs 10 for each rupee, if that happens.

Now that the Met department, in its second forecast, has said rainfall would be 96 per cent of normal, down from 99 per cent forecast earlier, bookies have revised the odds and deficient rainfall looks likely. "Now, it's 70 paise for a rupee for deficient rains, Rs 1.25 for normal rainfall and Rs 4 for a drought. The odds for daily rain checks vary every day depending on local conditions," said a Mumbai-based bookie.

Bookies thrive on uncertainty, whether it is a nail-biting cricket match or elections, and the ultimate game of uncertainty is predicting the weather, which has become a national obsession as monsoon has kept everybody guessing.

People bet on daily rainfall, seasonal rainfall, drought and floods - anything related to monsoon. For Daula Ram, a habitual punter of Phalodi village near Jodhpur, punting is a way of life. His instincts were right in the Indian Premier League and in Pranab Mukherjee becoming the Congress candidate for the presidential election. His sixth sense told him June rainfall would be low, and he pocketed a few lakhs with another bet, as rains were 24 per cent below normal.

Punters play by instinct, and have their own way of predicting what may happen. For Paritosh Mukherjee of Kolkata, the current of the Ganges tells the movement of monsoon while Daula Ram scales sand dunes in Thar desert to determine the winning bet.

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