Legalising Cricket Betting in India


Amidst various recommendations made by the Supreme Court appointed committee headed by Mr. Justice R.M. Lodha (Lodha Committee) in its voluminous report submitted to the Supreme Court, ‘legalizing sports betting to curb malaise of match fixing’[1] triggered the maximum amount of debate. While senior ruling party leaders have clearly enunciated their displeasure with regard to legalized betting, it’s exponents believe it brings in good amount of investment and revenues. [2] Justice Mukul Mudgal after submitting his report on ‘match fixing and betting in the infamous Indian Premier League’ stated that betting is among the largest turnover industries in the country and if made legal would provide significant revenue to the government.[3]


What appear to be appalling observations at the first glance are not without effective supporting evidences. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) estimates the betting market in India is worth Rs.3,00,000/- crores, while cricket contributes 80% of its share.[4] If made legal, it is estimated to provide the Centre revenue of almost Rs.20,000 crores.[5] In furtherance to this criminalization of betting brings with it abundant problems as curbing it is a next to impossible task. The ever-advancing technology, development of new betting products (i.e. spread betting and betting exchanges) and the advent of the Internet has further developed corrupt betting practices.[6] In addition to this an ineffective 145-year-old legislation (Public Gambling Act, 1867) with miniscule penalties and fines is falling short in scope to prohibit and suppress this menace. A perplexed view also appears towards gambling in India from the practices followed in different states. While lottery is legal in many states in the country, gambling is legal in casinos in Goa.[7]


As the integrity of sports in the country is constantly being vitiated and is under a serious threat, legalizing betting and taxing the winnings may at least enhance transparency. India could take examples from developed gambling industry in the UK, which have a total financial impact equivalent to 6 billion pounds ($9.3 billion dollars) and in addition to that also supports over 100,000 jobs within the country.[8] An effective and vigilant gambling commission, licensing bookers and keeping a constant check on gambling operations in the country, could also be an efficacious remedy.


It is beyond any cavil that the entire betting system has flaws, but it is not rotted. With the debate heating up, it would be interesting to see whether India is willing to make the bet.



REFERENCES


[1] HMCJ (Former) R.M. Lodha , HMJ (Former) Ashok Bhan, HMJ (Former) R.V. Raveendran, ‘Before the Supreme Court Appointed Committee’ 53 <http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/DOWNLOAD/100/0141/Full_text_of_the_Lodha_Committee_report.pdf> accessed 20 January 2016


[2] Jay Satya, ‘Gadkari says no to casinos, asks state governments to develop yoga and spiritual tourism instead’ (glaws, 14 January 2016) < http://glaws.in/2016/01/14/gadkari-says-no-to-casinos-asks-state-governments-to-develop-yoga-and-spiritual-tourism-instead/ > accessed 20 January 2016


[3] Shuchi Bansal & Anil Padmanabhan ‘Betting should be legalized, says Mukul Mudgal’ (livemint, 15 February, 2015) < http://www.livemint.com/Politics/f2ooIKBuBu1UOObZCpxNsK/Betting-should-be-legalized-says-Mukul-Mudgal.html> accessed 20 January 2016


[4] Shailesh Menon, ‘The case for legalized cricket betting; it’s not what you think’ <http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/sports/the-case-for-legalized-cricket-betting-its-not-what-you-think/articleshow/50631879.cms > accessed 20 January 2016


[5] Id 4


[6] Id 1, at 19 (footnote- 1.1.3)


[7] Sports Betting, ‘India Gambling Laws’ < http://sportsbetting.net.in/gambling-laws/ > accessed 20 January 2016


[8] Padmanav Patra, ‘Gambling/Betting should be legalized in India! Betting in Cricket – Should it be made legal?’ (Study Freak) < http://www.studyfreak.com/gdHome1.php?gd=327> accessed 20 January 2016

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