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Arrest Of Mahadev Betting App Promoter A Warning Bell For Online Betting Players

Ravi Uppal, one of the two main owners of the betting app, was detained in Dubai by the local police.

By The Core Team
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The Mahadev betting application (app) is under the government’s radar. On Wednesday, Ravi Uppal, one of the two main owners of the betting app, was detained in Dubai by the local police based on a red notice issued by the Interpol at the behest of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), news agencies reported.

Uppal is facing a money laundering case and is being investigated by the ED. He is named as an accused in the case. Red Corner notices were issued against Uppal and Sourabh Chandrakar, the other promoter of the illegal betting syndicate, who has been in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since October this year. A Red Corner notice was issued against both the accused after the ED moved a special court in Raipur, Chhattisgarh and obtained a non-bailable warrant against them.

Mahadev betting app has been in news since 2021 when FIRs started getting filed against the company. The "platform for illegal betting" in poker, card games and cricket, badminton, among others, was making news for a while. While several prominent people were named in FIRs , it was mostly young, unemployed people who were working for the app. The realisation that it was illegal to bet online came to them much later, for some only when the police knocked on their doors.

What Does Mahadev Betting App Do?

The Mahadev Online Book Betting app is an umbrella syndicate that arranges online platforms to enable illegal betting websites to enrol new users, create user IDs and launder money through a layered web of unknown bank accounts.

Chandrakar and Uppal, who hail from Bhilai in Chattisgarh, are the two main promoters of the Mahadev betting platform and run their operations from Dubai. They had created an empire for themselves in that country, the ED said. 

The agency had recently conducted searches at 39 locations across Raipur, Bhopal, Mumbai, and Kolkata and seized illegal assets worth Rs 417 crore. ED has also taken up an investigation abroad. A Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) special court at Raipur has also issued non-bailable warrants against the suspects. According to reports, ED said in November that it was investigating an alleged payment of about Rs 508 crore by the Mahadev app promoters to then-Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel over a period of time. The ED had cited the purported confession of alleged cash courier Asim Das.

Chhattisgarh police unearthed the Mahadev betting app case by a chance encounter. Following several raids, four people were arrested from a hotel in Raipur who claimed that amongst the many ways they were betting, there was a new app called Mahadev App, Decode reported. After the arrest of Uppal, it has been reported that the authorities are planning to arrest  Chandrakar soon.

How Were They Nabbed?

The owners of the betting app aroused suspicion after their lavish lifestyle became public. In 2019, Uppal and Chandrakar migrated to Dubai, taking their immediate family members in the next couple of years. In 2021, Chandrakar had thrown a lavish party in Dubai for the success of his venture. In 2022, he organised another lavish party for his sister’s wedding. Chartered jets were hired to ferry relatives from Nagpur and Kolkata to Dubai. According to an old neighbour of Chandrakar, the family instantly uprooted from the city, but not before it was clear that they had suddenly found money. “They were from the lower middle-class, but suddenly, they had fancy gadgets arrive in their house. They would tell us their son was sending them goods from overseas where he worked in a construction firm,” Decode quoted a neighbour. 

Uppal’s arrest came months after a lavish wedding held in February this year in the UAE caught ED’s attention. The entire expense worth Rs 200 crore was paid completely in cash. At his wedding held in Ras AlKhaimah, Chandrakar hired private jets to ferry family members from Nagpur to the UAE and paid celebrities from the film industry to perform, according to the ED.

The illegal betting and gambling apps have been under the spotlight recently. The Ministry of Information and Technology last month issued an order blocking some 22 'illegal' betting apps and websites, including Mahadev Apps. Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary told Parliament earlier this week that the centre has blocked a total of 581 apps so far out of which there are 174 betting and gambling apps and 87 loan lending apps.



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