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Call to legalise sports betting gets louder

18th September, 05:59

NEW DELHI: The latest report of corruption in Indian cricket brings under light the Law Commission of India's recommendation that sports betting should be legalised. The body was asked by the Supreme Court to file a report following suggestions from the Mudgal Commission, which probed the IPL corruption scandal in 2013. The Lodha Commission too batted for this step.

Last July, the Law Commission filed its report and said that legalising sports betting would result in revenue for the government as well as curb the generation and circulation of black money. But since it is an advisory body, it's up to the Parliament and state legislators to decide. So far, there has been no news of this topic coming up for discussion.

Following reports of betting and match-fixing in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), this issue again becomes relevant. Sports lawyer Vidushpat Singhania, who assisted Justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal in his probe, feels the recurrence of these unwanted incidents makes the case for legalising sports betting in India stronger.

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"Other than generating revenue for the government, legalisation of sports betting will also help in keeping the operation clean. If betting syndicate operators are licensed, it becomes their prerogative to follow rules. To maintain a good reputation, they will have to make sure that everything is alright.

"If they notice a sudden jump in betting amounts or other irregularities, they can report it to the authorities. This can work as an alert," Singhania told this newspaper on Monday.

As is well known, horse racing is the only activity on which betting is allowed in India. However, sports betting is legal in Sikkim. In Nagaland, it's legal to bet on virtual reality games. Then there are fantasy games such as My Team XI and Dream XI, which require money for participation and offer monetary rewards to successful participants.

Singhania feels the presence of these games and their increasing popularity acts in favour of legalisation of betting on sports. "These games are different from betting, but similar in nature. There is some skill involved, which are akin to the skills needed in sports betting. You put money and choose a team and get rewarded if that team does well. If that is alright, why not legalise sports betting, which has other benefits."