India’s Lawmakers Mull Nation-Wide Legalized Sports Betting
India’s laws on sports betting have remained largely untouched since the passage of the Public Gaming Act of 1867. The legislation placed heavy restrictions on gambling activities, accept for a few specific avenues, such as lotteries and horse racing. Goa has been one of the most contentious regions in recent times regarding gambling, as the area operates several offshore casinos that many communities and officials want gone for good. Suddenly, the nation’s lawmakers and highest courts are leaning more than ever in favor of erecting a regulated sports betting industry.
Recent instances of match fixing in one of the nation’s most revered sports institutions, India’s Premiere League of Cricket, have brought gambling legislation back to the forefront of discussions on legalized gaming operations. Proponents of such legislation contend that legalized gaming would keep match-fixing in check, as active monitoring and functional regulatory frameworks for the industry would more effectively reveal instances of match fixing.
The Law Commission of India has been tasked with offering its own recommendations on the issue and the group is expected to give its opinion in the near future. The Law commission is primarily tasked with working for legal reform by way of gathering subject matter and legal experts to advise the Ministry of Law and Justice in India.
The Supreme Court has become involved in the matter, as well. Justices Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar will preside over a scheduled Public Interest Litigation and direct the government on how best to erect a framework for a regulated sports betting bill. The Cricket reforms case resulting from the aforementioned match fixing scandal will piggyback on the court’s decision.
According to a petition filed by proponents of gambling reform, such a framework would assist in extricating the undesirable elements associated with gambling. Black-market operations would effectively be snuffed out by legitimate ones, whereby players and bookmakers would be held accountable for wagers placed and the ensuing payouts. Business transactions would be traceable and reported, allowing the government to pull tax revenue out of each instance to be used towards social services, infrastructure, and the like.
It is estimated by analysts that an effective framework could lead to a regulated sports betting industry worth as much as $50 billion annually.
Balbir Singh Chauhan, current Chairman of the 21st Law Commission of India, asserts the proper strategy to approach legalized gambling will require a three-pronged effort, which includes, “Reforming the existing gambling (lottery, horse racing) market and legalizing the present illegal market (introducing new products) while introducing stringent and over-arching regulations.”
The Cricket Crisis
Perhaps the largest shared pastime among Indian’s is their love of Cricket. Their relationship to the game was rocked just three years ago following revelations of match fixing in India’s Premiere League. Illegal bookmakers, punters, and even Bollywood celebrities were implicated in the scandal. During the events, professional players Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were arrested and charged with cheating, criminal conspiracy, and criminal breach of trust as a result of accepting compensation from bookmakers and agreeing to concede fixed numbers of runs per over during sporting events.
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