CONFLICTING reports regarding the online sports betting industry in India are confusing punters.
The Indian Law Commission has concluded its public consultation on the legalisation of sports betting and the response has been heavily in favour of a regulated industry.
As a result, reports have emerged that the Sports Ministry has begun outlining the legislative framework to legalise internet sports betting in the country.
A ministry official has reportedly informed the Indian Express that informal consultations have taken place within the government.
They also revealed it could take at least two years for the ministry to prepare the draft framework.
According to the ministry official, the legislation would be based on the UK’s online sports betting industry.
“The UK has one of the most effective gambling laws,” the ministry official said.
“We hope to understand their system and see if it is possible to introduce it in India.”
But Sports Minister, Vijay Goel, revealed to ANI that no proposals have been made just yet.
He also outlined he was heavily against legalising betting “but [the] final decision rests with Government.”
Still, many media outlets have speculated the Sports Secretary, Injeti Srinivas, could soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will address online sports betting.
“The department is preparing a MoU with the UK and the aspect of betting will be included therein in order to understand the mechanism and evolve a view on the possibility of its introduction in India.,” the ministry insider said.
Despite being illegal, online sports betting still occurs in India. Due to the lack of regulation, criminal activity such as match-fixing, regularly takes place. Punters place bets via illegal local bookmakers or online at offshore online sites.
The Sports Ministry reportedly noted the potential of a regulated industry at a recent Group of Secretaries meeting, suggesting a lack of funding for sports could be alleviated by the legalisation of sports betting.
But the Sports Ministry official also told Indian Express that the government was aware of the societal drawbacks of regulating the industry.
“However, it can be beneficial to the economy as well as sports overall,” the ministry insider said.
“We are looking at the best international practices in sports integrity and ethics framework.”
The issue of legalising sports betting has been around for quite some time due to the prevalence of match fixing, especially in cricket.
A huge scandal involving the Indian Premier League rocked the nation in 2013. Many politicians recommended the legalisation of sports betting to stamp out match fixing – regulated bookmakers work with authorities and report any unusual betting behaviours.
But the issue took off last year when the former Chief Justice of India, R. M. Lodha, recommended legalising cricket betting in a report to the Supreme Court.
“As far as betting alone is concerned, many of the respondents before the Committee were of the view that it would serve both the game and economy if it were legalised as has been done in the United Kingdom,” Lodha said in his report.
Goa floating casino makes bad play
Meanwhile, a floating casino has washed up on a sandbar near Miramar beach in Goa – one of the only states in India where land-based casino gambling is legal.
The MV Lucky 7 casino cruise ship became stuck while being towed to its anchoring spot on the Mandovi river. Four of the 19 crew members called for help and one was reportedly injured. No passengers were on board.
The casino ship only recently received a license despite reservations from anti-gambling groups and politicians. The incident has only caused more controversy for the floating casinos which have been told they must relocate from the Mandovi river by September 30.
Last week, the state’s Town and Country Planning Minister, Vijai Sardesai, proposed relocating the six floating casinos to land.
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