Mahadev Betting App alongside 22 other betting apps faced a ban amid a sweeping crackdown on illegal online gambling platforms revealing a nexus of digital crime and highlighting India's escalating battle against unregulated online betting.
Mahadev betting app scandal is a high-profile case revolving around an online betting platform that facilitated illegal gambling on various games like poker, card games, cricket, badminton, tennis, and football. The app is notably run by Dubai-based individuals, Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, both originating from Chhattisgarh, India. The platform provided a live gambling environment for users to engage in betting activities across these games. It’s been uncovered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that a vast network operated by Mahadev Online Book allowed illegal betting opportunities, extending even to Indian elections.
One of the significant controversies surrounding this case is the alleged involvement of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who, according to claims by the ED, received kickbacks amounting to Rs 508 crore from the app’s promoters based in the UAE. Further exacerbating the scandal, an accused individual in the Mahadev app case claimed in a video statement that Chief Minister Baghel had instructed him to travel to the UAE, as reported on the day of governmental action against the app.
In light of the ongoing investigations by the ED, and amidst accusations of inaction on part of the Chhattisgarh government .The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) issued blocking orders against 22 illegal betting apps and websites, including the Mahadev Book Online platform. This action was seen as an attempt to curb the illegal betting syndicate associated with the Mahadev app, as well as other similar platforms promoting unlawful gambling activities.
The ED’s probe into this matter has led to the identification of 14 accused individuals in a charge sheet, with a subsequent hearing scheduled for November 25, 2023. The investigations have also trickled down to the entertainment industry, summoning Bollywood personalities like Ranbir Kapoor and Kapil Sharma for their alleged association with the betting app scandal thus widening the scope and impact of the case.
Moreover, the scandal has revealed extravagant expenditures by the promoters of the app, such as a lavish wedding ceremony in the UAE for Sourabh Chandrakar, costing around ₹ (INR) 200 Crore, further highlighting the financial extent of the illegal operations.
This scandal exemplifies the challenges faced by law enforcement and regulatory bodies in tackling digital financial crimes and illegal online gambling, especially with high-profile individuals potentially being involved making it a notable case of illicit digital activities in India.