Cricket is a game we love. For many of us, it is more important than life or death. But, there is the other side to this intriguing sport.
If you follow cricket or have slightest of an idea about it, you might know how every moment of the game is betted on. Not just result of a fixture, but also the toss, how opening batsmen will fare, how a particular session would turn out or an outcome of a specific delivery. The range of cricket betting options is endless.
According to the statistics revealed by All India Gaming Federation, India squanders more than $30 billion on cricket betting every year – an equivalent of 2 lakh crore INR.
As per the Indian laws, cricket is a game of skill which is exempted under Section 12 of Public Gambling Act, from the definition of Gambling.
Time and again, Indian media has reported that betting and gambling, though not legal in India, is practiced across the country illicitly. There is no legal system in place to participate in betting. Cricket betting is no longer limited to bookies who would take bets at homes over phones. It has gone the digital way. There are several platforms – including betting websites and apps – to punt on cricket.
And interestingly, most of the involved believe that betting through the legal websites is lawful, as the sites get payments via digital wallet and there is no breach of the law.
For years, there have been several suspicions of players’ involvement in sports betting. Many have been alleged of cheating and throwing games to cash in on payments from bookmakers.
Hansie Cronje (South Africa), Saleem Malik (Pakistan), Mohammed Azharuddin (India), Ajay Jadeja (India), Salman Butt (Pakistan), Mohammad Asif (Pakistan), Mohammad Amir (Pakistan), Lou Vincent (New Zealand), Chris Cairns (New Zealand) and Sreesanth (India) are some of the notable cricketers who have been handed bans in association with fixing spots or cricket matches.
Many countries across the globe have in place a legal system that allows take a chance and bet on various sports.
If Cricket betting gets legalised, the unorganized betting activities may stop. With regulations come the right kind of sponsors, and government can be a party to share the revenues with the operators. With legalisation, measures can be put in place to protect citizens from financial ruin – putting a limit on punts.
The two committees – the Lodha committee and the Mudgal committee – had submitted recommendations on cricket reforms in the past. Both the panels recommended legalisation of sports betting to clean up fixing in sport.
Both the committees argued that regulation of betting would help the authorities keep an eye on suspicious patterns and investigate dubious episodes. Moreover, the committees’ report stated that regulations could curb the nefarious activities related to betting, such as money laundering, tax evasion and terror financing.
Given the recommendations by the two committees, there are ample reasons for making betting on sports legal and make amendments to regulate the betting activities.