Indian Bow and Arrow Lottery is Alive and Well

“Hitting” the correct number has a whole new meaning in Meghalaya.

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Bows and arrows rarely become the subject of gambling news in most part of the world, but not so in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, home to the Khasi tribe.

The really interesting part is that the gambling in question it has nothing to do with sports betting in the way most people understand it. In fact, while it is illegal to bet on sports in India, this particular game is legal.

The traditional game of Siat Khnam (or Shoot Arrow) became authorized by Indian gambling laws in 1982, following a ban that lasted a few decades. Although it is conducted at dedicated archery ranges, the punters wager not on the results of competing archers, but on the total number of arrows that actually strike the target.

Bettors can go on-site or to one of the many betting shops, pick a two-digit number, place their bets and wait for the archers to fire off their arrows. This happens twice a day.

Archers squat in a semicircle, approximately 50 meters from a straw bale target, and begin firing as many arrows as they can in a given time. When the time is up a curtain goes up to stop all further arrows. Those projectiles that hit the target and remain wedged in it are counted, and the last two digits of that number determine the winner.

If no one picked that particular number then the prize pool is transferred to the next round.

Allowing this peculiar gambling practice in a country whose laws mostly prohibit gambling is probably due to archery being viewed as a valuable tradition, even despite the associated gambling activity.

Needless to say, the scale of this special sports gambling is too small to be of a commercial interest beyond the local community, but there it is wildly popular.

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