Why be surprised if Kohli invests in gaming cos? That’s where big money is headed

7th January 2021

7th January 2021

Disclosure - as an ex-seafarer who was sailing under the Indian flag, I was personally impacted by probably the earliest cricketer + filmstar combo endorsement scams. Subsequently I moved into trying to do something about holding people who endorse products or services liable and as of today, the laws as they stand in India on advertiser and endorsement liabilities, have become reasonably tight and strong.

So, how many readers here even remember "HOME TRADE",  where 2,750 crores or so was burnt in brand building for an unknown product or service? In a day and age when Bofors was all of 2-digits in crores?Track "Home Trade" if you are so inclined, and spot how many of the punters involved are still around, pushing their version of magic smoke and happy mushrooms. There are hundreds of Members of Parliament, thousands of MLAs and lakhs of other elected and selected representatives but none can set the pace as far as money games go as our very own film stars and cricketers."Financial Capital" takes on a whole new meaning with them.

It started from there, my interest in observing cricketers and film stars falling down and enjoying the benefits of doubtful cancer colas and junk foods of the endorsement business, with notable exceptions who did not succumb like The Great Wall of India who grew up playing cricket in the ground behind my in-laws place in Bangalore. But for the rest, I managed to in one lifetime understand the connections built into aspirations and greed, tying in with the nebulous wonderlands of gambling and narcotics which then linked up with the biggest game of all - money laundry.

Film stars and cricketers of the '60s and early '70s had moved on from being fronts for imported cars and exported pickles. I happened to come across the famous all-rounder who was part of the first and sailed with the cousin of the equally famous spinner who was part of the second. But if anybody figured out the realities of standing behind the tables with gambling as a professional option, it had to be the most famous batsman of those days, and it seems to have remained in that category for a few decades after that. The really big numbers along with the future lifestyle on tax-free islands in the sun are in revenues from gaming.

And now comes the news that Virat Kohli has a new baby. Endorsements are not a safe bet anymore. Much better to be a direct stakeholder then. There are, as yet, no laws about taking part in business enterprises which are at conflict with each other. You have to only take a train from Basel to Zurich and understand that the factories en route make fine precise watch movements, medical equipment, advanced prosthetics and anti-human mines, for example. And if you so desire, you can invest in each one of them, with great hopes for sales being maximised somewhere else.

Likewise with cricketers and soon film stars investing in gaming companies. High Nett Worth has to go somewhere to get Higher. And Governments? Their role is to collect taxes. On everything. Either over the table. Or below the table. But there will always be a croupier's table in cricket. 11+11=21 or maybe even 36 with a single zero or a double zero, the only thing left is that the cricket teams may need to standardise on black and red as colours for their uniforms. (Playing cards have black and red, as does the roulette table, divided down the line with a multi-coloured joker and a 0 or double 00 in roulette).

The cricketer-actor combo strikes again. It's all show-business. And you thought it was about intelligent betting when the House holds all the Cards? Let's see who and how many get willingly burnt here. Happy Days are Here Again.

Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.

A survivor of two brain-strokes, triggered by a ship explosion in the 70s, Veeresh moved beyond fear decades ago.


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