SPORTS betting in India could become a reality in the not so distant future with legislators reaching out to the cricket industry for suggestions.
The Law Commission of India (LCI), responsible for reviewing the ban on sports betting, has to submit recommendations on the nature of sports wagering to the Supreme Court.
But before it does, it is asking the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for suggestions.
Member secretary of the LCI, Sanjay Singh, wrote a letter to the BCCI, explaining that they would review the nature of both betting and gambling.
“While the Law Commission has been reaching out to the various stakeholders to seek their observations and suggestions, it considers that the views of your association will be valuable in formulating its recommendations on betting,” Singh wrote in the letter, according to ESPNcricinfo.
“I would, therefore, request you to forward the views of the association on the matter to the Commission at the earliest, as we would like to submit our report in line with the directions of the Supreme Court, at an early date.”
India has been grappling with the idea of a regulated sports wagering industry since 2000, after a match fixing scandal.
But the government didn’t act until 2013 when a match-fixing scandal involving the Indian Premier League occurred.
The Supreme Court created the Lodha Committee to preserve integrity in Indian cricket and among the recommendations suggested by the panel was legalising sports betting.
The Committee stated that legalising betting would boost the country’s economy and support the sporting industry.
“We have suggested to the legislature for legalising betting with inbuilt mechanism and ensuring that players, match officials, administrator, team officials…will not be entitled to indulge in betting,” Justice (Retd.) R.M Lodha, who headed the panel, had said.
The Supreme Court acted on the recommendations and instructed the LCI to review the nature of sports betting and the advantages and disadvantages of a regulated sports wagering industry.
The LCI established a public consultation and respondents, including the European Sports Security Association and the All India Gaming Federation recommended legalising sports betting or legalising betting on cricket, respectively.
Reports following the public consultation suggested a regulated sports wagering industry was imminent.
But a BCCI official said regulating the sports betting industry isn’t that simple.
“If you want to do it and make it successful, there is a lot to be done because it can`t be half-baked,” the official said.
“If you legalise betting, then who runs the betting houses?
“Will it be done by the government or will there be certain companies?
“Is there going to be a structure in place for those companies?
“Have you thought of a system where you need gambling de-addiction centres?
“There are not enough liquor de-addiction centres in India, forget betting.”
Sports Secretary, Injeti Srinivas, meeting with the UK Gambling Commission Director, Nick Tofiluk, added fuel to the fire. Additional reports suggested the Indian government will likely base its regulatory framework around the UK betting industry.
This week an Indian High Court found that fantasy sports does not amount to gambling due to the high level of skill required. Skill-based games in the country are legal, where as gambling is mostly illegal.
It’s not clear whether legislators will deem sports betting as a game of skill or overhaul the entire framework under the Public Gaming Act 1867.
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