The only way to end illegal sports betting is to make it a legalised activity.
Betting and match-fixing are co-related. Yet, there can be betting on any sport without matches being fixed. But matches will not be fixed, unless there is betting and big money to be raked in.
That’s the simple truth.
Now how would you separate the two? It has been done in many countries but there has to be mechanisms in place to check and prevent match-fixing. Legalizing sports betting can go a long way in curbing fixing but cannot eliminate it completely.
This has been proven umpteen times in horse-racing. Though it is legalized, illegal betting is rampant and that is the reasons piping hot favorites on big race days flop as if by habit.
Yet, despite fixing and illegal betting, the advantages of legalized betting far outweigh the disadvantages.
Fixers can be fixed. Illegal betting can be tracked. For it requires the use of telephones, now mobile phones, or the computer.
Legalizing betting will bring in a lot of revenue to the exchequer which can in turn be ploughed back into sports development and infrastructure betterment.
In India, money is available for many things but never much for sports. This is true of all institutions in most of the sectors. While everyone wants to watch sports and also benefit from it, there is not even half the investment into sports and to forward its cause.
The Central government and states governments will be able to benefit enormously by legalizing sports betting.
Not just bringing in revenue, the step will reduce illegal betting, though not fixing. It will create employment opportunities for those willing to take the risk and open up betting shops or betting sites as online transactions are the order of the day now.
This debate has been raging on and on with nothing concrete being done over the years.
The Justice Chandrachud Commission gave the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) a clean chit in the fixing saga until the Delhi police blew the lid on its face with the Hansie Cronje episode.
It was then this subject of legalized sports betting cropped up.
In fact, I was the first to write and bring out a supplement in a local newspaper in 1997-98 itself highlighting the need to legalize sports betting. It created quite a furore in sports and journalism circles. But after the IPL fixing saga, many newspapers carried Edit pieces on the need to legalize sports betting.
India’s top law panel is now examining whether betting on sports and gambling in casinos and other places can be legalised.
Though the Law Commission of India is yet to take a call, a draft gambling act is under serious consideration it is learnt.
Legalising sports betting is expected to regulate an informal industry worth Rs 300,000 crore and also bring in thousands of crores in revenue, according to certain estimates.
The Indian Contract Act treats an agreement that is based on betting as void. The provisions of the Act will have to be amended to permit legalized betting.
The Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, in a report in 2013, had suggested that there is an informal Rs 300,000 annual betting industry in India despite it being illegal and if a tax is imposed on the industry, the government could earn about Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 19,000 crore every year.
You can only legally bet on horse races in India. Other than horse racing, sports betting of any kind is not allowed in India. Despite that, illegal betting syndicates thrive in the country.
The 1867 Public Gambling Act bars any kind of gambling in India, but there is no law to prevent internet gambling. Countries like the USA has it in place.
Betting firms in Europe, Australia or South America are using this loophole to lure Indians. Many people in India are believed to have registered accounts with offshore firms.
Considering all the implications, it is generally felt that legalising sports betting will be a move in keeping with the present times.
After all, the Media is providing tremendous publicity to International sports rather than local events. It is the International event in which betting comes into play. Local events draw just minimal interest.
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