“I can bet that Virat Kohli’s RCB will lift the IPL crown this year!”
This can be the exact essence of conversations in every nook and corner of cricket-frenzy India. The only convene is that the gossip remains virtual as betting or gambling is not legal in India.
On the flip side, there is no law that makes online betting an illegal activity. It is to be noted that online betting is considered legal in many European countries, so is the time ripe to approach betting in a different manner.
For starter, one cannot deny that the world is changing and so is the modus operandi of the betting industry. But then we are faced with the question as to if the time is right to reconsider India’s legal stance on gambling and betting on sports? The Indian Contract Act, 1872 and Public Gambling Act, 1867 prohibit wagering and gambling in public spaces, respectively. But these laws are more than 150 years old, and couldn’t have foreseen the technological advancements made.
If we look at the prime reason for the rise in match-fixing, it not solely because of betting activities, but rather the absence of legitimacy to betting, which makes people resort to mafia controlled betting. So giving it a legitimacy might as well put an end to mafia involvement.
Cricket betting in India
Online betting is a huge trending topic in India. Millions of Indians are extremely open to the ideas of using the internet’s full potential. Surveys have shown that the younger generation is extremely open to the idea of wagering their money, especially in sports betting. For records, India’s online gambling industry’s growth is in line with the growth of the global gambling industry.
Fantasy cricket in India has grown tremendously after the Supreme Court declared it a ‘fair’ game. The fact that India’s most famous fantasy platform, Dream11, is sponsoring the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) highlights their rapid growth. Although fantasy sports do not dwell under the betting hood, they are morally viable options for online betting and gambling.
The number of players in India reached more than 30 crores, and it is expected to grow twice its size by 2021. Players in India have access to popular betting platforms such as Betway, Bet365, Parimatch. The gambling industry’s revenue is projected to reach 25,000 crores by 2024.
Cricket betting laws
Offshore betting companies are apparently using this ‘loophole’ to lure Indians to bet on pretty much everything. The Indian Premier League (IPL) tops their lists now and some websites have even hooked up with offshore betting agencies, thereby allowing Indians to place online bets.
One of the advisory websites, indiabet.com, claims they don’t take bets but help get in touch with international online bookmakers.
The lack of regulation makes people more than willing to place bets online. By legalising them, the whole process will be under control and the flow of money will be used much better. Since India is one of the most sought out markets for online bookies, many companies may transfer their HQs to India and boost the economy even more.
India has a complex system, where gambling and betting laws differ from state to state. In states of Goa and Sikkim, forms are betting and gambling is considered legal.
One has to consider that despite the lack of legislation, the online betting industry in India is thriving. The potential of it is proven by their marketing gambits, wherein icons of the game Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are roped into market them.
Lok Sabha MP Dr Shashi Tharoor has opined that the legalisation of sports betting in India could be looked at as a win-win situation for all the concerned parties. Not only it will garner an additional revenue for the state and union governments, but it will also be seen as a big step to minimise match-fixing in sports.
Tharoor, an avid cricket fan himself, feels the public need to be educated about the practical aspect of betting in cricket.
“I not only have recommended that (legalising betting), but I also introduced a Private Members’ Bill in the last Parliament that would legalise sports betting. Number one, it takes away the power from the underworld. Right now, the mafia that controls betting syndicates and bets on matches they are ones who do things like match-fixing and so on. An open above board betting system would not do that. Secondly, you can tax legal betting, and when you tax it, revenues of the tax go up,” Tharoor said.
Sure enough, betting still holds a taboo amongst the masses, but a right kind of knowledge sharing would go a long way to solve the riddle. So can betting be legalised, and will the Government address the elephant in the room? What’s in store for the future is indeed cloudy but what’s certain is that we must evolve.
The wagers for the upcoming IPL matches can be placed here.