(Bloomberg) — Australia defeated India to win the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, yielding a windfall for bettors who had wagered against the host country’s unbeaten streak until the final.
In Australia, Sportsbet was offering 2.9 times the amount for an Australia win as of Friday, more than twice the payout for an India win at 1.4 times. Betfair, based in the UK, offered 3 times for Australia versus 1.49 for India. Sportsbet and Betfair didn’t reply to emails seeking comment; except for horse racing, sports betting is prohibited in most Indian states.
The final match was played in front of an almost capacity crowd at the world’s biggest stadium, including Bollywood stars, India’s billionaire Ambani family, as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his close ally and Home Minister Amit Shah, whose son runs the Board of Control for Cricket in India. It lured a record viewership of at least 57 million on Disney Hotstar though the numbers began dropping as the game turned decisively in favor of Australia.
“The odds of India winning are higher, and they’ve been a favorite this entire tournament,” Anish Badshah, Seattle-based founder of BETTR Edge, a betting market analysis provider, had said before the final. “But the match is between two of the best teams.”
The clash was held in front of 130,000 spectators in the Ahmedabad stadium named after Prime Minister Modi, in his home state Gujarat. A win would have added to a year of important milestones for the leader ahead of elections next year, after Delhi held the Group of 20 nations summit in September and India achieved a moon landing.
“A sporting win certainly gives some credibility to a governing party,” said Binoy Kampmark, senior lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University in Australia. “And it helps that it is cricket, considered India’s national sport.”
The game also comes as India hopes to host the Olympics for the first time in 2036, while cricket will be formally included in the Olympics in 2028 in Los Angeles. However, its bid could be undermined by criticism of India’s hosting of the Cricket World Cup, with problems including last-minute scheduling and chaotic ticketing processes. Air pollution in India’s cities has been another major concern, as cricketers either canceled training sessions or had to use inhalers.
Meanwhile, global interest in cricket continues to spread, with the sport now drawing interest from Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg News reported this month. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has become one of the richest sporting bodies in the world as its $6.2 billion, local American-league style tournament has catapulted the commercial success of the game globally.
–With assistance from Alex Gabriel Simon and Garfield Reynolds.
(Updates with detail)
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