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Should betting be legalized?

Posted by Shreyans Jain Thursday, 6 June 2013 0 comments

After the recent exposure of the betting and spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the gentleman’s game seems to have become a gambler’s paradise. As the game plunges into glorious uncertainty, there is an unwarranted clarion call by some to put a ban on the IPL matches. IPL, they feel, is an extravaganza for the business tycoons and various Bollywood personalities to collude and further their monetary interests, thus offering a fertile ground for lucrative betting. This has severely degraded the majesty of the sport and has led to the moral decline of cricket and cricketers. The hyper commercialization of the sport and the accompanying culture has, however, raised a contentious issue, “Should betting be legalized in cricket?”

According to a survey by the auditing firm KPMG, betting to the tune of Rs. 3,00,000 crore takes place annually in India. This whopping sum of black money is adversely affecting our economic growth by breeding a parallel economy. Even after investing substantial resources and cracking the whip on bookies that operate in underground ways, the government has failed to enforce a blanket ban on this ‘heinous’ and ‘corrupt’ practice of earning money. A number of arrests have been made, several bank accounts used to carry out transactions of the booty have been seized and a large number of communication equipment have been confiscated, but  this illegal practice, it seems, has shown no signs of abatement. 

In such a scenario, the government should think of legalising and regulating betting that would entail the use of white money instead of black money. Moreover, it may generate a revenue of Rs. 12,000 to 19,000 crore per annum for the exchequer. This could have several potential benefits. Firstly, it could ensure accountability for the massive amounts of money transferred through illegal channels and reduction in the cases of match-fixing, spot-fixing, money laundering et cetera. This could also provide a disincentive to the players who succumb to the temptation of the booty and bring disrepute to their nation by corrupting their morals. Secondly, the revenue generated as a consequence of legalized betting could potentially fund sports development, welfare schemes and infrastructure development for various sports. This could offer dual benefit – by preventing the deterioration of sports culture and ensuring a sports lover’s right to a fair game. Thirdly, through proper and active regulation, the young and vulnerable could be protected against the perils of unwise betting behaviour and structured sleaze.

On the contrary, even though regulated and legalized, betting may lead to social and cultural problems. Anybody with black money would refrain from voluntarily inviting the risk of assessment of his/her income sources and auditing of accounts by the government. Moreover, gambling lobby might become too strong to overcome any prosecution through legal loopholes and sloppy judicial process, in the long run. 

Prudence demands that a suitable mechanism be devised to bring those involved in illegal betting within the ambit of the law and the glory of the sport be regained by ridding it of its malaise.


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