Pongal: Coastal Andhra gears up for gambling on cockfights with webcast and UPI payment options

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Andhra Pradesh’s coastal districts are gearing up to celebrate cockfights during the three-day festivities from January 14 to 16 as part of annual Pongal celebrations.

Pongal is the biggest festival in the State with betting and gambling on cockfights as a customary part.

The flagship cockfight, involves two trained roosters fitted with razor-sharp blades on their legs fighting to their death, or until one of them backs off. Public from Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai along with NRIs with roots in Andhra flock to cockfight locations to bet.  The betting amounts hundreds of crores of rupees during the three-day festival of Pongal, more popularly referred as Sankranti.

In Gudivada of Krishna district, a casino was set up during last year’s Pongal in a convention center belonging to the then civil supplies minister Kodali Sri Venkateswara Rao alias Nani. The casino was set up with specially decorated with strobe lights with dances by youth to latest numbers and cheer girls around to entertain the guests. Bouncers from Hyderabad were engaged to ensure that none could carry mobile phones inside the casino. Entry was restricted with each ticket priced at INR 10,000.

This time, police of East Godavari district said they have imposed 144 section across the district till 25 January and formed village level committees to report on gambling activities.

Locals says all police announcements are only on paper and in fact it is the police who provide security to the locations where cockfights are organised.

Some organisers with no political clout are planning to webcast the cockfights and take bets online using UPI and electronic modes. These organisers are planning to target North India through electronic means to tap new markets.

As per a report on Times of India, about 400 arenas are getting ready to host cockfights in East Godavari, West Godavari, Eluru, Krishna and NTR districts.