Ratan Khatri, considered by many as among the pioneers of betting in India, has died, family sources said on Sunday.
Khatri, 88, died on Saturday after a brief illness at his home in Navjeevan Society in Mumbai Central area here, the sources said.
Hailing from a Sindhi family, Khatri came to Mumbai from Karachi in Pakistan when he was a teenager during the partition in 1947.
Famous for his ‘Matka King’ sobriquet, Khatri is credited with transforming matka (a form of gambling that originated in Mumbai in 1962) into India’s biggest betting racket and established a nation-wide gambling network that lasted for decades under his control.
Matka involved betting on the opening and closing rates of cotton transmitted from the New York Cotton Exchange. Matka was popular in all sections of Mumbai society in 1960s.
Khatri, who earlier worked with Kalyanji Bhagat when the latter started the Worli Matka, parted ways to form his own ‘Ratan Matka’. The matka which involved drawing lots from chits in a pot was a money-spinner with the daily turnover from gambling touching Rs one crore.
A tongue-in-cheek tribute to the ex-gambler came from a Twitter user who said the “hourly new announcements of government on lockdown norms reminded him of Ratan Khatri’s Kalyan/Mumbai matka (open/close) of 70s!”