Cricket betting which is believed to be linked to the sensational murder of Pakistan`s coach Bob Woolmer is racing beyond horses in Colombo and elsewhere in Sri Lanka.
Bookmakers and betting centres in Colombo are putting out World Cup specials and say matches are now more popular and are drawing more bets than horse races.
Millions of Lankans watched the crucial Sri Lanka-India match on Friday and betting centres say they offered and received bets on various aspects of the game if not a ball-by-ball basis. They said bets were offered and received on who would win the toss and who would score the first six besides the bigger bets on winners and losers.
For the rest of the matches, bets are now open and reads like the list of horses and jockeys for a race -- Man of the match, man of the series, highest scorer for a match, the tournament`s top scorer, highest opening partnership, number of sixes, number of runouts, highest wicket taker, and winners of the world cup.
Similar to the race-by-race process, betting centres are also offering and getting numerous offers on an over-by-over basis.
On Friday hundreds of people were seen watching the Sri Lanka-India match till late at night at popular betting centres in Borella, Fort, Pettah and Maradana.
While Colombo is the hub of the new trend in cricket betting, it has also spread to the suburbs and other areas like Ratnapura with the city of gems glittering with cricket bets.
Race newspaper Sporting Times official A. Sagara said betting for the main aspects of the matches closed at 6.30 p.m. but the over-by-over aspects were open till much later.
He said on the days when Sri Lanka were playing, long queues were seen outside betting centres from 5.p.m. and many of the centres had installed large screen Plasma TVs to give punters an extra special view of the matches.
Deputy Inspector General Rohan Abeywardena said gambling centres paid taxes and there was no legal basis to check or stop the betting.