Mahadev Book Online was targeted by a blocking order issued on Sunday by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). As announced in a government press release, the order will affect a total of 22 betting applications and websites that were found to have violated India’s laws.
Two individuals tied to Mahadev Book Online have been arrested, including Bhim Singh Yadav, an officer working for the Chhattisgarh Police. The other individual put in custody is cash courier Asim Das. Both are facing accusations of money laundering, and their arrest warrants were issued under Section 19 of India’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Mahadev Book Online is a betting application based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the app’s targeting of Indian customers is deemed to be against the law by India’s authorities. According to allegations by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Mahadev Book Online is utilized for the purposes of money laundering.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, stated that the government of Chhattisgarh failed to make a recommendation for the shutting down of the illegal betting website and application despite having the authority to do so. The Chhattisgarh government could have achieved this by citing Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
India’s Crackdown on Illegal Betting Operations
The developments surrounding Mahadev Book Online follow the introduction of amendments to the Information Technology Rules made this spring, which now differentiate between legal online betting operations and ones that do not operate legitimately under Indian legislation. The year 2023 has thus far seen the prohibition of dozens of illegal betting operations that were in violation of Indian laws.
Ultimately, the request to ban Mahadev Book Online and the 21 other apps and websites was made by the ED, which is investigating a betting app syndicate with alleged ties to various political figures. In addition, Asim Das is the informer who, after being questioned by the ED, accused Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel of having received money from Mahadev promoters on a regular basis. Asim Das’ claims are supported by emails and forensic evidence that suggest that Baghel has received an approximate Rs 508 crore in payments. The ED will investigate the matter further, but Baghel has denied the allegations. The Mahadev situation also involves Bollywood actors Ranbir Kapoor and Huma Qureshi, among others, who were summoned for questioning by the ED.
Authorities have carried out multiple raids on alleged Mahadev centers across India as a result of the Mahadev Book Online case, including ones in Chhattisgarh. In September, raids in locations tied to the Mahadev app were conducted in Mumbai and Kolkata, as well as in other cities. This resulted in the seizure of Rs 417 crore in earnings suspected to have been generated from the illegal operation.