Precipitation Predictors Start Early

Wednesday’s early rainfall sent a welcome signal to the sky gamblers: They are back in the game.

Although the rainy season in Phnom Penh does not officially start until next month, the sky gamblers—particularly in Battambang province—have been placing bets for the past two weeks.

The rains began earlier in northern Cambodia, and at least twice already there have been rainfalls in Battambang big enough to generate payoffs, said Le Tal, the province’s chief of police for serious crime.

“People will play this game until No­vember,” he said.

It poured Wednesday in Battambang and Phnom Penh.

The tradition of betting on the rain is not only widespread but increasingly high-tech, as gamblers place their bets over radio or telephone.

In all locations, the bettors use their skill and experience to guess how much rain will fall, and when.

Some meet on rooftops to examine the sky and place their bets. Some just bet on the day, while others narrow it down to the hour.

Le Tal said sky gambling is illegal, but it’s hard for police to crack down on it, as practitioners move around. All they need for a successful operation is privacy, a tin roof, a device to catch the rainwater and an agreed-upon method for measuring rainfall.

“People can lose $12 or $24” or much more, he said, noting that one man in Battambang wagered his car last year. He lost.

 

 

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