India law panel recommends regulating sports betting to tackle scourge of illegal gambling

  • Law Commission report recommends ‘tightly regulated’ betting
  • Legal industry could halt the growing black market for bets

An report has recommended to the Indian government that illegal betting could be tackled if the practice was lifted out of the shadows and properly regulated.

IPL betting India police red-faced
Sports betting in India is currently outlawed

The Law Commission is working on a report to the Indian Government, at the request of the Supreme Court, which suggests that allowing legal wagering on the national sport of cricket and tight regulation of online betting will curb the growing problem of illegal bets.

“Online betting is difficult to prevent, so it requires regulation. We must have a stringent law,” chairman of the LCI Justice BS Chauhan told Hindustan Times reporters recently.

The LCI’s recommendation comes after several months of examination into the issue of sports betting, most specifically on cricket matches.

Sports betting is becoming increasingly widespread in India, despite the country’s strict anti-gambling laws.

Legal betting could slow spread of illegal gambling

The Law Commission estimates that Rs 130 billion ($2.02 billion USD) is gambled illegally in India every year.

There are fears that those funds are being used to fund criminal gangs. Money from illegal gambling has been connected with terrorism, and with anti-government activities. If lawmakers were to legalize some forms of gaming, some of that income could be diverted to good causes or to fund infrastructure projects instead.

The other fear is for the game of cricket itself. The glitzy IPL cricket league has had problems with corruption and match fixing centred around illegal betting. The worry is that a big underground trade in bets could corrupt and ruin the game’s image.

“If it is not possible to prevent such activities completely, strictly regulating these activities remains the only viable option,” the LCI’s report reads. “Regulated gambling would ensure detection of fraud and money laundering.”

Indian betting would be strictly regulated

If there is to be a commercial gambling market within India, lawmakers are clear it would be a tightly controlled one. Legalization of games of chance, such as casino table games, is unlikely to happen in the coming months and years.

However, sports betting has a high demand from consumers and is one of the leading forms of illegal gambling in India, so this is where the Law Commission’s report is focusing.

Any legal sports betting industry would be closely monitored by regulators, and operators would have strict license conditions to follow. The LCI recommends that all gaming transactions should be cashless. This ensures every transaction can be reported and recorded, to prevent the risk of fraud or money laundering.

There would also be limits on how much a player can spend and how often they can play, says chairman Chauhan. “The proposed law can have provisions to make sure that a person does not become habitual, he cannot bet more than a certain number of times in one year or put on stake more than a certain percentage of his wealth,” the LCI chief stated.

The commission has also suggested authorizing two strands of the gaming industry: ‘small gambling’ for the mass market, and ‘proper gambling’ for high rollers and VIPs.

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