It’s a well-known fact that India is a cricket-loving country which also leads to an increase in the people being interested in online betting as well. With a lot of people being exposed to the internet, cricket betting offers a unique opportunity for online bookmakers to make a huge customer base. Despite these vast numbers of internet users, there is a lack of awareness when it comes to cricket betting and the onus for the same is on various online bookmakers out there.
Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur, who was the president of the Board of Cricket Control in India, had recently suggested that sports betting should be legalized in India, according to reports by Outlook and Business Line. Speaking at an event organized by ICICI Securities, Thakur reportedly said that “betting can be an effective tool to curb match-fixing” and the possibility of legalizing it needs to be considered.
Former BCCI president said it would help in “monitoring people allegedly involved in fixing” and contain “unholy and corrupt” practices such as match-fixing, apart from contributions in the tax revenue. Thakur was reportedly responding to a suggestion by Nilesh Shah, managing director of Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company and part-time member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.
Shah said that Indians are naturally attracted towards betting and gambling, suggesting that they be legalized. “ Accoridng to the Outlook, Shah said, If we look at the problem of match-fixing, then the trends in betting can give us leads on whether something unholy is happening or not. Betting can become a potent tool to stop fixing.”
In January 2017, Thakur was sacked from the post of BCCI president by the Supreme Court for failing to comply with the orders given by the apex body. He has been closely connected with cricket. Apart from serving as BCCI president for a year or so, he was also the president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and played a key role in building the Dharamshala Cricket Stadium.
Thakur’s comments come at a time when online gambling and gaming websites have been scrutinized a lot. Through this scrutiny — coming from state governments and high courts — has not specifically focused on sports-related gambling, any change in the regulatory management of sports betting will definitely be having an impact on the gambling activities in other areas as well.
Regulation of sports betting
In 2018, the Law Commission had recommended that sports betting and gambling needs to be legalized and heavily regulated. The Commission’s report was triggered by the Supreme Court which, while considering the Lodha Committee report which examined Indian cricket administration, had asked the panel to examine the issue.
After the Law Commission published its proposals, Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor proposed a private members’ bill for the prevention of sports fraud and regulate online sports betting. For online sports gaming and betting, The Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018, had proposed the formation of a commission to oversee the functions of online gaming websites, track illegal online sports gaming and betting patterns. The bill addressed only online sports betting, leaving gambling activities in relation to non-sporting events out of its ambit.